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Guidelines for Freelance Writers

April 24, 2013

Dear Travel Writer:

Welcome to the cornerstone of what we do.

What follows is the most important information contained in these several pages. The Los Angeles Times values honesty, fairness and truth. We understand the difficulties of the profession, but we also know that our reputation—and yours—rests on ensuring that our readers receive the best information possible.

These guidelines are from our own code of ethics, constructed over many months and with much care.

The Los Angeles Times Ethics Guidelines for Freelance Writers

The work of freelance journalists appears in our paper and on our website alongside staff-produced photos, articles and graphics. Freelancers must therefore approach their work without conflicts and must adhere to the same standards of professionalism that The Times requires of its own staff. It is the responsibility of assigning editors to inquire about a freelancer’s potential conflicts of interest before making an assignment.

Conflict-of-interest provisions may apply differently to contributors to the Op-Ed pages. They are expected to bring institutional and personal perspectives to their work. They are not expected to avoid conflicts, but they are expected to disclose them.

More information about our expectations follows. If you have any questions, please call me or e-mail me.

Thank you again for your interest in and articles submitted to the Los Angeles Times.

Sincerely,

Catharine M. Hamm

Travel editor

Guidelines for submitting materials to the Los Angeles Times Travel section:

With the increasing power of the Internet, it is a small world after all. We are awash in information: guidebooks, blogs, travel websites, maps, apps, ebooks, etc.

Your travel experience may translate into a blog post, a print or online story, a photo gallery in print or online. Each of these requires a slightly different approach as does each kind of story.

The Travel section, both print and online, is looking for bold, original travel features that tell a great story and are strong character-driven or first-person narratives. Stories should be sophisticated, compelling, complete and written with flair.

They should evoke a strong sense of place (sounds, colors, smells, tastes), time (when did you go?), expertise and personal perspective, and they should be written with a precise story angle in mind.

To that end, we seek two kinds of destination stories: Weekend Escapes and longer destination features.

Regardless of  which kind of story you’re doing, you’ll need to remember this:

We require first North American rights for stories.

Freelancers must approach their work and travel arrangements without conflicts and must adhere to the same standards of professionalism that The Times requires of its staff. 

The Travel section will not consider pieces written about trips that have been subsidized in any way (even if part of a trip was not comped).  We may ask for receipts.

Completed stories are considered on speculation only.  Stories must be based on trips taken within the previous TWO years. To be considered, the story may not have run elsewhere or be pending publication elsewhere.

Note that to get paid, we will need to have contracts returned before publication. If you have not received them, please contact Catharine.Hamm@latimes.com or Lisa.Boone@latimes.com. For articles, payment will be submitted automatically, but you must invoice to be paid for a blog. (See payment info below). Photos are not paid out of the travel editorial department, and the photo procedure does require an invoice. (See photo guidelines below.)

Weekend Escape, print or online

The Weekend Escape is about 400 words, and when we say 400 words, we do not mean 900. Please note that we require five photos to accompany each of the “categories” listed in the sample below.

Escapes can be trips taken in the West, which is anything from Colorado west but including Texas—but you must have taken the trip.

Here’s an example:

Portland weekend

Intro: The Portland Hop. I know, it sounds like a dance craze in 1937. But really, it’s what you do when Southern California gets you down and you need to drink small-batch beer, eat northwestern locavore meals, and see bike commuters in the rain. My wife, daughter and I hit Portland for a few days last August. Airfares aside, we spent about $550, including $170 per night on the Hotel Modera (thanks to the first AARP discount of my life) and $28 at Pacific Pie Co.

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