The Wash

Pitch Rubric

Complete the Pitch Form for each of your five planned stories. (No need to complete it for the spot news story. We’ll talk separately for election story pitches.) If you make a mistake or need to edit your pitch, you can do that in Airtable. We’ll grade the latest version submitted before the deadline. As always, you can discuss your pitches with us before submitting them for a grade.

Grade Breakdown

(40 points total)

Newsworthiness (20 points): Have you discovered original content which may attract the attention of a professional news publication? Is this a story that fits within the greater coverage of The Wash? Why does this story matter now? What new coverage are you providing? What research and info-gathering have you already completed? What do you already know? How feasible is this idea? How are you best positioned to get the story.

Writing (10 points): Grammar, sentence structure, punctuation. Also, does the subject line grab our attention? Does the writing of the pitch make us want to read the future story?

Sources (5 points): List of quality, clear-to-identify interview subjects (at least two). Ideally, you have already communicated with some of them.

Visual Elements (5 points): Every story has a minimum visual requirement of at least one image (used as the featured image). What else do you envision for your story beyond that? What interactives could you build? Or charts? Or additional photos? We’ll expect more as the semester unfolds.

Pitch Examples

The following are six real pitches from Fall 2019. They do not include all the fields (like sources and visual elements), but you’ll get a better idea of what we’re looking for by reading them.


Northwest shootings leave neighborhood residents on edge (Neighborhood: Petworth)

It started on Sunday, Sept. 16. Residents near Triangle Park in Petworth awoke to a terrifying sound — gunshots. Police dispatched a helicopter and several cruisers; they uncovered more than 23 shell casings, but, thankfully, no victims.

On Monday, it happened again at nearly the exact same location. Shots fired, no victims, some property damage. A man was gunned down in the neighborhood not far from there in June, and on Friday morning, two were killed and seven were injured in a pair of shootings just a few blocks away in Columbia Heights.

It’s a phenomenon in some of Washington’s oldest, quietest neighborhoods that have residents on edge. Is it a spate of violence? Is it a trend? How soon will it end? What are police doing to end it?

DC students ditch school to fight for their future at the Capitol Building (Neighborhood: Capitol Hill)

Hook: A 16-year-old activist from Sweden brings her climate strike movement to the U.S. capital, mobilizing thousands of students in the largest mass protest for climate action in human history.

Summary: One year ago, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg skipped school on a Friday to protest in front of the Swedish Parliament, calling for stricter environmental protection policies. She wanted to ensure her and her classmate’s right to a healthy future on a livable planet. Already, her movement has inspired millions of students all over the world to protest on Fridays, from Tasmania to Taiwan to Uganda. This Friday, September 20, 2019, students from DC, Maryland and Virginia will skip school to protest in front of the Capitol Building, and call for immediate action on climate change from the country’s most influential actors. Greta Thunberg will stand arm-in-arm with American students to demand urgent environmental protections for the future of humanity.


Local Cafe Serves More Than a Cup of Coffee (Neighborhood: NoMa)

With more than 1600 apartments being built in the NoMa area, the price of housing has increased dramatically. Finding work and housing in the community has become increasingly harder for those who are trying to get back on their feet. A local coffee shop called The Village Café specializes in providing locally sourced food and helping the community grow. After realizing how hard it is for some locals to find work, the founders of the the café decided to hire underserved entrepreneurs and give them a second chance at life; many of them who went through a D.C. program called Project Empowerment. The employees build strong connections with their customers, and also give back to the community by hosting various events that help educate the youth on different subject matters, and creating a safe space where anyone is welcome.

There has been some coverage on this café; however, they were short pieces that focused on the backstory of the business before they opened. There hasn’t been any follow ups on the progress that they have made, and the type of people that have been given the opportunity to change their life around by working at the café.

This story is very doable, as I have already visited them twice and made myself familiar with them. I was able to do some interviews with one of the founders and an employee who was released from prison in 2017 who became homeless, but has now been able to become a better person and learn valuable life skills since working there. I have also talked to various customers in the café to understand why they keep coming back when there are plenty of other coffee shops around the area.

REACH Expansion Gives Kennedy Center a Whole New Perspective (Neighborhood: Foggy Bottom / West End)

The Kennedy Center is currently introducing their new space, the REACH, with a 16-day festival. Since we were discussing different angles I could take to talk about the Kennedy Center since it is a timely situation, I was thinking of focusing on how their new performance space impacts the center and what makes it different from their traditional space. Their original space was more historical and monumental, while the REACH is meant to be more personal and more about the artists and the public rather than just people coming in and watching performances. Focus on the artists using the space and how it is a different experience from the original space.


Liquid Nitrogen produces a popular frozen dessert (Neighborhood: Shaw / U Street)

Traditional ice cream is filled with dairy and high sugar content. With the rise in healthy food options, finding an alternative to your traditional ice cream would seem difficult. That’s not the case with Nicecream. Nicecream is an ice cream shop that makes their special treats using an unconventional method. Liquid nitrogen is their secret ingredient. Liquid nitrogen is most commonly used for skin conditions, but founders found away to use it as a part of their recipe. Such an idea can seem skeptical, but it tastes just like regular ice cream and contains fewer calories and fat than dairy produced ice cream. With liquid nitrogen being known as a health hazard to the skin, this couple was able to produce a quick and inexpensive treat to the public while also saving ice cream and space.

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Dupont Circle Fountain/Park (Neighborhood: Dupont Circle)

The DuPont Circle Fountain/Park is best known for a place to relax, enjoy the scenery and hang out with family and friends. However, here are 10 things you may not have known about this place where people pass, sit in and view every day.

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