I regularly receive emails from all over London and beyond with ideas for stories you would like me to cover.
I love hearing from readers and such suggestions are always welcome. Many have been the inspiration for articles that have appeared on this site.
However, shortly after starting OurCity.London, I realised that there are simply too many important stories for me to cover alone. My aim for this website was to tell important stories that, for whatever reason, were not being covered in the mainstream media. Therefore if you want to contribute to that goal by submitting a post for publication in your own name, I would welcome that. My contact details are here.
What am I looking for?
Basically I am looking for anything that helps us understand more about the politics, economics and urban development of London. The story can look at a particular local matter that is a powerful example of an issue gripping the city, or it can look at a policy or event that impacts the city as a whole. You will find examples of both types of story on this site.
The first question you must ask yourself, before you lay your fingers on the keyboard, is why would anyone who knows nothing about my area care about this story?
As activists and campaigners we can get caught up in the detail of an issue which may be important to people living in an area, but will have little resonance with people living outside it. Ask yourself, what is the kernel of the issue which other people in other parts of the city will relate to?
That is not to say you shouldn’t add local context; far from it. Getting the feel of the area will be very important in helping the reader understand the issue.
To that end it would help if you could provide pictures or maps. That is not an absolute condition. If your story is really great I might come and take some pictures myself. I won’t make you take your pictures on 35mm black and white film.
I enjoy long reads and the obsession with short articles is killing journalism. But it will be rare that you will need more than 1500 words to tell your story. Again, that is not an absolute rule, but trying to keep to a word limit will help ensure that you remain focused on the key issue.
I will edit all submissions before publication. I will also run the final copy past you before I hit publish.
However, it will help all of us if you are mindful of making your writing as clear as possible ahead of submission. That means avoiding jargon and explaining key concepts clearly. One of my pet hates is the use of acronyms. Technical language only serves to close discussion of important issues to people with specialist knowledge, at the exclusion of the public. That is exactly the opposite of what I am trying to achieve on this site.
A good starting point to ensure clarity of prose is to keep in mind George Orwell’s 6 rules of writing, which are as follows.
- Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
- Never use a long word where a short one will do.
- If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
- Never use the passive where you can use the active.
- Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
- Break any of these rules sooner than say anything barbarous.
This website will not shy away from publishing hard-hitting stories that seek to hold people of power and influence to account. To do this and be effective, the site must be a trusted source of information and articles must be grounded in the facts. Therefore, when making your submission please provide evidence for any assertions you make. If you make an allegation about any institution or individual I will contact them to give them the opportunity to respond.
Finally – this site is read by professional planners, architects and developers, as well as campaigners, officials and politicians in city hall, and local townhalls and central government. If you want to make an impact on our city, think about why these people need to read your article before writing it.
I look forward to hearing from you