Writing for The Philadelphia Partisan

Anyone can be a writer for the Partisan! The Partisan is an online publishing platform that takes a collaborative and inclusive approach to journalism. If you want to uplift the voices of oppressed people, we encourage you to write for us. We aim to empower working people to tell their own stories and build an alternative to the mainstream press (which is largely controlled by the 1%). No experience or journalism credentials are required.

Perspective: “To Make Revolution Irresistible” 

  • The Partisan aims to provide “people’s journalism.”
  • We present a radical and working-class perspective on issues facing Philadelphians today. This is a journal by and for the working class.
  • We openly hold a socialist, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, abolitionist, anti-racist, internationalist, feminist, and LGBTQ+ viewpoint.
  • We focus mainly on local organizing work rather than pure theory or philosophy.
  • Analysis-based pieces should be relevant in some way to the context of Philadelphia today, and ideally to stories of resistance.
  • We are especially interested in highlighting activist work that builds people power on the ground in and with communities to fight structural inequality. We want to tell these stories as examples of a more radical alternative to conventional nonprofits, charities, and political systems. To quote Toni Cade Bambara, “The job of the writer is to make revolution irresistible.” We hold the same philosophy.

Some article examples from the Partisan website:

  1. Base building/dual power: Maddie Rose, “Radicalizing a Tent Community: Interview with Dee Black of the Encampment Protest”
  2. Critical analysis of local issues: Matteo MacDermant, “Tax Abatements: Philly’s Gift to the Rich”
  3. General radical theory: Avery Minnelli, “Why We Read DuBois”

What Does That Mean in Practice?

  • We are not affiliated with any political parties or candidates.
  • We approach what is said by those in a position of power and privilege with caution.
  • We use people-first language. E.g., “people who are incarcerated” rather than “inmates”; “people who use drugs” rather than “drug addicts.”
  • We do not blame marginalized groups for their oppression or use harmful stereotypes. 

Our articles are written at an accessible reading level so that most people can understand them. (The average American reads at an 8th grade level.) To achieve this, we:

  1. Use simple language and conversational style.
  2. Define complex terms and only use them if necessary.
  3. Break information down into understandable chunks, with the most important points first.
  4. Use active voice.

When interviewing people we:

  1. Assume a stance of trust, then verify.
  2. Honor requests for anonymity. Let interviewees know the Partisan is affiliated with Philly Socialists. They may or may not want to be associated with our group.
  3. Ask them what pronouns should be used to refer to them in the Partisan. Default to “they/them” if unsure.
  4. Get the correct spelling of their name/s.
  5. Make sure they are quoted correctly. The best way to achieve this is to record the interview (always ask permission) or do it over email.
  6. As a courtesy, we may send them the article for approval before it is published.
  7. Thank them for their time.

Publishing Process

  1. Pitch your article! You can do this at a Partisan meeting or through this form.
  2. A Writer Coordinator will contact you (usually over email) to help get you started.
  3. Begin writing! It might be good to start with interviews or research, and then write an outline before diving into the first draft. Writer Coordinators can continue to assist with ideas, questions, contacts, etc., throughout the process!
  4. Turn in your draft by sharing an editable Google Docs link with a Writer Coordinator.
  5. Your draft is then passed on to the Editor Coordinator, who will assign you an editor.
  6. Completed edits are sent to you, at which point it’s up to you to approve and apply them.
  7. The final draft is published! 

Sourcing: Supporting Your Arguments

  • Ideally, use quotes from at least two interviews for your article. These can be from interviews you have done or interviews with a different publication.
  • If you are citing a secondary source, hyperlink and italicize the title of the publication. E.g., “According to the New York Times …”
  • Link back to your sources when stating a fact. Be sure to verify each fact with two reliable sources.
  • Examples of reliable sources include:
    • Research studies, firsthand accounts, government agencies, liberal think tanks
    • News sources such as The Intercept, Democracy Now!, The Guardian
  • When using studies and surveys, be sure to check who funded them!

Some General Interview Tips!

  • Research your topic and interviewee before writing interview questions.
  • When writing and asking questions, think about what readers will want to know.
  • Ask simple, clear questions.
  • Never ask two questions at once.
  • Be sure to ask follow-up questions if your interviewee doesn’t fully answer or understand, or if you need more details.
  • Only interrupt when the interviewee goes off-topic; tangents may contain great quotes!

Active listening lets the person talking know you are hearing them. This looks like:

  1. Making eye contact.
  2. Leaning toward the interviewee.
  3. Repeating the end of the interviewee’s sentence back to them.
  4. Bringing up a specific thing they said and asking for clarification.

Ready to Begin Writing?

  • Your first paragraph should be exciting and draw the reader in.
  • You should express the main gist of the article and why it is important in the second or third paragraph.
  • The final paragraph should end with a key takeaway, connect to the bigger picture, or mention ongoing developments.
  • Make sure to include an eye-catching headline!

Art

  • We always try to have an image to accompany each article. This can be a photo, graphic, or illustration!
  • If the image is not your own, make sure you have permission to use it.
  • If you’re having trouble acquiring an image, Philly Socialists also has a Design Collective the Partisan team can reach out to for illustrations or graphics.
  • All imagery, like the article itself, should be respectful toward oppressed groups.
  • Image dimensions for the website are more flexible, but an image size of 1140 x 700 pixels is ideal.
  • For the Partisan website (our sole publication method at the moment), a PNG or JPEG file format should work fine. The ideal image format for print is the TIFF file type.

Further Reading:

Googling Skills for Journalists

Writing for Readability

Editing Checklist