Nearly every issue can be tied to global poverty, however that doesn’t mean we want to cover every issue. An important thing to remember about The Borgen Project is, first and foremost we are an organization that exists to improve living conditions for the world’s poor. We want our articles to educate and engage people.
A Few Rules to Live By:
- Know the one your with: The Borgen Project exists to educate and engage U.S. leaders and the public in fighting global poverty. Our blog and magazine articles are an extension of our efforts and their purpose is to attract people from all walks of life.
- Tell your audience what’s right with the world. The media does a good job of covering what’s wrong with the world, let your readers know the goods news, what’s working, etc. These stories are hard to find on news sites, but if you do some homework there’s tons of data that convey the successes occurring. Pick a developing country, pick an issue (it’s poverty rates, illiteracy rates, hunger rates, etc.) and compare what is now to 10 or 20 years ago. More often than not, you’ll have a headline that looks like so, “20 million people in Vietnam lifted out of poverty since 1990.”
- Do I care? If you can’t make the topic interesting to yourself, good luck making it interesting to your reader. Likewise, would your friends and family find this topic/article interesting? Obviously, not every topic is going to be engaging to everyone.
- Will the reader know your ideology… Because they shouldn’t. Will a person reading the article think The Borgen Project is Liberal, Conservative, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice, Pro-GMO, Anti-GMO, etc. We are neither and your topic and article shouldn’t convey the organization and the poverty-reduction movement in any light other than a welcoming nonpartisan effort.
Examples of Things Not to Cover:
All of these are important global issues, but most articles submitted on these are rarely good fits for a nonprofit that focuses on global poverty.
- Climate Change
- Human rights
- Family Planning, Pro-Life, Pro-Choice
- Nuclear Weapons
- Democrats good/bad, Republican good/bad
- North Korea, Iran, Syria (tread on these sparingly, we receive lots of submissions but just recycle news coverage)
Do’s and Don’t
– Cover what’s right with the world.
– Cover timeless topics. We write articles like a magazine would, not like a 24/7 breaking news site. Depending on the always fluctuating Writer to Editor ratio, articles can take anywhere from 3-12 days to publish. After you submit your article it typical goes through 5 people; Uploader, First Round Editor, Visual Editor, Second Round Editor and Publisher. Needless to say, your story on “Tomorrow’s U.N. Summit Offers Hope” will likely be outdated before it’s even published.
– Cover divisive topics. Remember the whole idea is to bring people to the global poverty fight. While your article may be based on fact, make sure it’s not a topic that will alienate readers.
– Cover the negative… especially if you’re not doing intensive research and interviews.
– Be bias. You saw a powerful documentary on GMO’s and not your going to write an article about the evils of GMO’s.
– Recycle news coverage. For example, “10,000 Syrian refugees crossed Jordan border” Wait a minute, you’re based in Austin, TX how do you know 10,000 Syrian’s crossed the border? Oh, the New York Times told you. These types of topics, where you’re not on the ground covering live, usually end up more or less recycling other news sources… We don’t want you doing that. Naturally, you’ll have to rely on other news sites as sources for many articles, but avoid topics that will force you to overly rely on other news sites.
Good Fit/Bad Fit Examples
Good Fit: 80 million people in India lifted out of poverty last year
Bad Fit: Gender Violence in India – This topic doesn’t fit for two reasons, first it’s more relevant to a human rights organization than a global poverty organization. Second, it recycling news that’s already getting lots of attention in the press.
Good Fit: Technology helps Syrian refugees find loved ones – Great on two counts, it highlights something that’s working and the technology component will fit great on the tech section of the magazine.
Bad Fit: Syrians forced to flee bombing – This topic doesn’t fit because it’s just recycling news coverage. It’s also a negative topic.
Ideas for Brainstorming
Your challenge as a writer is to make poverty-reduction interesting and engaging to people who wouldn’t normally read about it. Below are some ideas to get you brainstorming.
- For many animal lovers, this gut-wrenching story of a lion in an Afghanistan zoo brought the horrors occurring in the country to life.
- For those who love HGTV or work in construction, it’s hard not to love a story about a new building technique for providing homes to the world’s poor.
- Sports fans? How about articles profiling professional athletes who escaped poverty.
- When Microfinance began getting attention, many bankers, entrepreneurs and business professionals were among the movements earliest fans.