Oklahoma Today is a regional bimonthly paid-circulation magazine. All of the magazine’s editorial content focuses on the best of Oklahoma’s people, places, travel, food, events, and culture.
We have high standards for our writers and photographers. In order to work as a freelancer for our magazine, you must be a good writer, researcher, and reporter and demonstrate the ability to learn Oklahoma Today’s style and scope. We work primarily with writers and photographers who do not regularly write or shoot for other magazines in the Oklahoma market, and because of the distinct line between public relations and editorial writing, we prefer not to work with freelancers who are PR professionals.
CONSIDERING A STORY FOR PUBLICATION
Some of the questions we ask when considering a story are:
• Does the writer’s pitch or submission indicate an understanding of Oklahoma Today magazine and the stories we publish?
• Is this writer in clear control of his or her subject and the language?
• Who and what are the source materials?
• Is the writer providing accurate attributions?
• Does the writer include good sources and lively quotations?
• Is this submission enjoyable to read and informative?
Oklahoma Today articles and stories cover a wide range of topics. Within the past two years, we have published a portfolio of the Osage in four seasons, a history piece on Quanah Parker, and a profile of country superstar Blake Shelton. We cover picturesque and hidden sites, famous and not-so-famous Okies, legendary travel spots and those few know about, and everything in between.
Oklahoma Today is always interested in establishing relationships with new freelance writers who can help us tell Oklahoma’s story. All freelance writing for the magazine is done on a contract basis.
If you are interested in freelancing for us, please submit a detailed pitch or finished story. One of the best ways for a potential writer to get our attention is to submit a completed story for us to look at (in the industry, this is known as submitting a story "on spec"). If we like the piece, we’ll buy it. If we pass on it, you’re free to submit it elsewhere.
How to Get In
Read our magazine. Read Oklahoma newspapers and websites. Keeping up with what goes on in our state is the best way to write stories we can use. Include a biography of yourself and clips of previous work so we can get a good idea of your experience. Be patient: We are a small editorial team, and it takes time for us to respond to submissions. Be willing to start small: Very rarely do writers new to us start out writing features.
Oklahoma Today content is often planned well in advance, so stories submitted in March may not appear until next February. We produce an issue two months ahead of time (in September, for example, we are in production for November/December), so submit timely stories well before production deadlines. Oklahoma Today is published six times a year: In January, March, May, July, September, and November. Some of our issues have a specific theme (i.e. Food Issue, Indians & Cowboys Issue), in which the vast majority of editorial content must fit.
2. Story Guidelines
Stories will range in length from a few hundred words for department pieces to 3,500 words for major features.
We pay .25 a word, and payment is upon publication.
We are not able to pay for expenses, but we take into account the demands of a story assignment when negotiating payment.
4. Policies and Procedures
Oklahoma Today takes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, artwork, or photography.
Articles should be emailed, preferably as a Microsoft Word attachment.
Never send an original manuscript.
Rejected material will not be returned unless sent with an SASE.
5. Submit Manuscripts To:
Karlie Ybarra, Managing Editor
PO Box 1468
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1468
Phone: (405) 522-9501
Oklahoma Today requires its writers to conduct their reporting according to the magazine’s high standards of truth and accuracy. To that end, we have adopted the following guidelines. Of course, all stories are unique. Editorial judgment is always the final arbiter and will be exercised on a case-by-case basis by Oklahoma Today’s editors.
1. Oklahoma Today won’t publish any statements that haven’t been documented to its satisfaction.
2. Oklahoma Today requests primary sources for all previously unreported facts and for all other facts important to the story.
Any fact that might be contested should ideally have at least two primary sources. Although Oklahoma Today typically does not publish controversial material, the more controversial a fact, the higher the standard of sourcing that will be required. Countervailing opinions should be weighed by the writer and brought to the editor’s attention if appropriate. An example of a primary source is a credible person in a position to know the fact in question. A properly filed public document is also a primary source. Other documents uncovered in reporting may be considered primary sources.
3. Oklahoma Today discourages reporting that relies too heavily on secondary sources.
However, we accept that certain facts—mostly, minor facts that serve as background for a story—may be established via secondary sources. Newspapers and magazines will be accepted as secondary sources on a case-by-case basis. Common sense and skepticism will be our guides. In the field of medicine, for example, the New England Journal of Medicine would be accepted as authoritative. In most cases, Oklahoma Today will regard the following publications as acceptable secondary sources:
• State dailies/weeklies (Lawton, Muskogee, Enid, Stillwater, Norman, etc.)
•Dallas Morning News
•New York Times
•Wall Street Journal
Why these particular publications? Because they’re journals of record, widely available and widely read, with a good record for correcting mistakes. We don’t necessarily believe they are more accurate than other publications. But we do believe it’s reasonable to assume that if one of these publications reports something and it’s not corrected, it’s accurate. Reports in publications that aren’t deemed acceptable secondary sources by your editors should be verified with a primary source—or more that one primary source, if appropriate.
4. Oklahoma Today believes in giving credit to other publications for original reporting.
It is unethical to use another publication or writer’s work without acknowledgement. Even if we re-establish the facts first reported by another publication, we give credit if credit is due. The guidelines here are common sense and generosity.
5. Oklahoma Today expects its writers to take responsibility even for so-called common knowledge.
For matters of general and historical background, we rely on established encyclopedic reference and other general sources. But we will accept citation to any source that, in our opinion, can reasonably be called authoritative.
6. Oklahoma Today requires its writers and editors to keep unpublished drafts of assigned articles confidential.
We believe sharing any unpublished version of your article with the subject matter or a source is inappropriate. Soliciting approval from your subject or source compromises the editorial integrity of the piece and thus the magazine. Many sources will ask you to share with them a printed version of your draft. Please explain the magazine’s policy and refer those sources to your editor. If you feel you need feedback on a draft, please contact your assigning editor. The magazine has a rigorous in-house factchecking process, and we are committed to getting everything in a story right. There is always a small margin of error, but we strive to keep that margin as minimal as possible.
7. Oklahoma Today requires its writers to supply an annotated factchecking manuscript that reflects these guidelines.
Writers and editors will work together to decide which sources should be cited in final copy and how they should be cited. Meanwhile, writers must submit material that provides appropriate documentation of their reporting, and this is addressed in our freelance contracts.
8. Here’s what we need, specifically:
• Any notes, transcripts, or tapes of interviews
• All magazine or newspaper stories used in reporting
• All other supporting material, with relevant parts clearly marked
• Phone numbers for sources
Please be understanding of the factchecker’s work and cooperate fully with his or her efforts. Highlighting quotes and supplying page numbers helps enormously—and reduces the amount of time you’ll spend on the phone with a factchecker. Any questions about these guidelines? Ask your editor. In keeping with the intent of these reporting standards, Oklahoma Today would like to acknowledge Worth magazine for creating the original version of this document.
About Digital Photographs
The vast majority of images we traffic are digital. (If you are interested in a film submission, please email our photography editor, Megan Rossman, at the address indicated below.) Although the digital process appears simple, digital images potentially can create a number of quality issues. Please look over the following list of guidelines regarding submission of digital images for the magazine so that we can keep our quality high and reproduce your images in the best way possible.
About Oklahoma Today's Photography
We are known for our high-quality scenic photos, but we also know that people are a very important asset to stories and like to see them in photographs when appropriate. The one common denominator we seek in photographs is for them to evoke a sense of place.
When deciding on a subject, you need to focus on the extraordinary and be willing to take professional measures to get the shot. Our photographers usually find themselves on location early in the morning, very late in the evening, or maybe even just before or after a storm to capture a place in a different way that will enhance any normal scene.
Follow strict journalistic standards. Doctored photographs or composites are not appropriate. Be able to identify where in the state you took the photograph down to the address, country road, or mountain top. Subject matter, such as trees and flowers, should be identified, as should all people who appear in your photos.
Considering a Photograph for Publication
We appreciate great photography, and we believe in giving photographers the space they need to shine. We are always looking for superb scenic photographs of the state during all four seasons. We use full-bleed photographs on the cover of the magazine as well as inside the book.
How to Get In
Read our magazine. Most photographic portfolios that appear in Oklahoma Today are assigned, so the best way to break into the magazine is to submit a body of work.
All images submitted digitally must be original digital files. Scans of printed photos made on a flatbed scanner are often too low in quality for reproduction.
We prefer all digital submissions on CD, flash drive, or from a file-sharing website such as Dropbox. Because of necessary file size, emailed images are a last resort. If emailing is necessary, please submit photos to Megan.Rossman@TravelOK.com.
Send only “raw” files. Please do not Photoshop or edit the images in any way. Do not convert color images to black and white. Also, please send a good representation of your work. Do not edit your selections based on your opinion of what will work. Often, the perfect photo for publication may not be your first choice. You are the harshest critic of your photography. Where we’re concerned, more is better.
Resolution must be of the highest quality for printed reproduction. Please use a resolution of 300dpi. You need at least 5.1 megapixels to produce a full-page image, and even then you don’t have the luxury of cropping. In addition, we often print two-page spreads, meaning even larger files must be submitted.
We cannot accept highly compressed files. Although high compression is great for making files small, it destroys the detail necessary for reproduction. According to Oklahoma Today’s art director, Steven Walker, “Once compression has been applied, the damage is done.” In other words, we are unable to change the file compression size. Please use low compression or no compression for optimum detail.
Never send originals of your digital photography. Please back up all submissions to a disk or your hard drive. We will not be responsible for lost digital images.
Images submitted on disc must have an accompanying printout of the photos included on the disc. Each printout (preferably thumbnails) must include the file name. Please provide caption information and preferred photo credit. A caption sheet should be included with all of the following:
- I.D./file number of each photograph
- Detailed caption of the location and subject
- Your name and Social Security number
Images submitted on CD will not be returned unless specifically requested. Flash drives will be returned after publication.
While payment for photographs varies, rates are generally $50 or less for individual photos used 1/2 page or smaller, $100 for individual photos used as full page, and $300 or more for a major feature or photo essay. This includes all costs.
Oklahoma Today rates are for one-time use with second publication rights.
Rates include the right to use a published photograph for magazine promotional purposes and on the magazine’s website at no additional charge.
Payment for photographs will be upon publication.
Submit Photographs To:
Megan Rossman, Photography Editor
PO Box 1468
Oklahoma City, OK 73101-1468
Phone: (405) 522-9649