Submission Guidelines

Hakai Magazine explores science and society in coastal ecosystems. Our editorially independent, web-based publication examines the ties between the ocean, land, and human societies through long- and short-form journalism, illustration, photography, and video.

Pitching Hakai Magazine

Before you pitch, please review our website and these guidelines, which clearly outline the different sections of the magazine.

Pitches can come from a variety of perspectives—archaeology, ecology, biology, geology, oceanography, anthropology, environment, business, technology, policy, engineering, history, and more—but they must pertain to marine coastal environments in some way.

We invite you to submit brief (~500 words) query letters detailing potential stories that focus on coastal ecosystems, cultures, and communities around the world. Indicate the story’s angle, some of its important elements, the intended section, your credentials, and include three links to your previously published work. Please make sure you pitch us a story, not an idea and note that it is almost always easier to break into any magazine, ours included, with a shorter piece.

No phone queries or follow-ups, please. If, after two weeks, you have yet to receive a reply, contact us by email to make sure we received the pitch.

Fees vary depending on the length and complexity of a story (or visual submission) and on the experience of the visual storyteller or writer. Payment is made upon acceptance. (In Canadian dollars.) We have a modest travel budget and all expenses must be approved beforehand. If you like to stack assignments out in the field, or like to combine travel with work, let us know.

The Magazine

Hakai Magazine is divided into four main sections: News & Views, Features, Videos & Visuals, and Quick Reads.

News & Views

Pitch the News & Views editor at: [email protected]

This section is the place for short- to medium-sized stories (300 to 800 words) and artistic commentary that even landlubbers will enjoy. We’re looking for news and informed analysis of current events. Use your knowledge and connections to tell our readers what’s coming up next. We want to follow up on stories that made a splash, but then sank beneath the waves.

News & Views doesn’t have a set tone. Some stories are wonky. Some are goofy. All will be factual, entertaining, and informative.

Some story styles to consider:

New research – we want interesting stories gleaned from less-glossy journals as much, and perhaps even more, than we want stories from “big journals”

Analysis of current events – help contextualize and dig into ongoing stories

Local stories that deserve a boost – local stories that would be of interest to a wider audience

Myth busting – let’s set the record straight 

In the pipeline – we know that science takes a long time; what are researchers doing now that is setting the stage for the discoveries of tomorrow?

Following up – let’s follow-up on the big stories of yesteryear and see if they lived up to the hype or expectations


Pitch features at [email protected]

Hakai Magazine features come in a variety of forms and formats—profiles, investigative pieces, narratives, essays, and humorous narratives as well as photo essays, mini-documentaries, and illustrations/graphic storytelling.

Feature articles range from about 1,000 to 3,000 words. Journalists pitching features should have strong reporting and prose skills as well as experience creating written or visual work for magazines. We are interested in great stories and strong voices. We tilt heavily toward science/environmental stories, but we’re also interested in people and communities and how they interact with coastal ecosystems. Leave reporting to the newspapers; we’re looking for stories that have breadth, depth of research, and quality of prose.

Feature stories should pertain to at least one of our six feature pillars:

The Catch – stories about fisheries, including sustainability, habitat, food security, population dynamics, management, and more

Wonders – stories about the natural world: animals, vegetation, geological processes, weather/climate phenomena

Occupied – coastal societies from the ancient or historic past, the present, or even the future

Coasters - personal histories, profiles, or essays about people who live on the coast, visit the coast, and/or study the coast

On the Water – we’re a species with a fascination for boats, big and small

Innovators – art, engineering, and technology with a coastal spin

Videos & Visuals

Pitch videos at [email protected]

Pitch all other visual pieces at [email protected]

Photo Essays: Tell us about the story you’re proposing to tell, who the characters are, and how you plan to communicate this story visually. Include examples of other photo essays you have shot. If you are proposing an essay from existing photos, please include a selection to demonstrate how they will tell the story.

Non-fiction Comics: Comic features need to have the same depth of story and research as written pieces. Please refer to the guidelines for our Features and Quick Reads sections and tell us how the story lends itself to being told visually.

Infographics: Great infographics display data in a way that allows for exploration while calling attention to important insights. Please include details about where you will source your data and how you will make it accessible to the average reader.

Quick Reads

Pitch quick reads at [email protected]

Hakai Magazine has several short, recurring columns, similar to front of book sections in print magazines.

Five Things: This is a chance to curate five related things, 100 words per item. Surprise us. This is much more than a “listicle”—make your piece quirky, snappy, unusual, and unexpected. [550 words]

Observations: Short excerpts from diaries, letters, or field journals that somehow relate to the coastal environments or coastal communities, either past or present. Note that the original source should be visually compelling. You are not required to secure the image, but please include details on the image source with your pitch. [350 words]

Wonderful Things: Short articles that introduce readers to an ancient artifact or technology and tell an interesting, little known story about the coastal culture that created it. This column is primarily produced in-house, but pitches are considered when a high-quality, high-resolution image of the artifact is available to be licensed. You are not required to secure the image, but please include details on the image source with your pitch. [350 words] 

Departures: Obituaries of well-known people (long dead or more recently dead; famous or infamous; beloved, admired, or perhaps even loathed) who were somehow associated with coastal communities and environments. [500 words]

Our Picks: Reviews of films, books, or other media related to coastal communities and ecosystems. [350 words]

Old Coast, New Coast: “Then and now” images taken from the same perspective using historic photos or postcards to show the changes in a coastal environment. Include a short explanation of the location, the date of the original image, and other pertinent information of interest to the reader. Provide us with copyright information regarding the historic image. (Note that while it is the magazine’s responsibility to secure and pay for any image, you must provide information about the historic image in your pitch.) [350 words]

Stamped: Vintage stamps with coastal themes. Usually produced in-house, but if you have an idea, let us know. You are not required to secure the image, but please include details on the image source with your pitch. [350 words]

Last revision: October 31, 2016