Call for Pitches: Wild Billions

Sept. 26, 2023
For Bay Area journalists: Bay Nature is seeking freelance environmental journalists to pitch stories for our reporting project, Wild Billions, exploring potentially transformative money for nature in BIL and IRA, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. This is the money climate activists have been wanting for a generation. What would transformation look like? What are the obstacles to spending this money properly?

We have beefed up our freelance budget (some might say “somewhat less paltry”) and are seeking 1500-word profiles of funded projects or trends/issues affecting them, and shorter Q&As or explainers. We also have a special projects fund for more ambitious accountability/investigative pieces. Visual journalism is also a possibility, including photoessays and illustrated work.

We have a narrow area of interest: nature in the Bay Area. We don’t cover green energy and emissions reductions, which are some 90 percent of BIL and IRA. That still leaves at least $106 billion nationally for biodiversity, wildlife, nature-based climate solutions, coastal resilience, ocean health, climate-smart agriculture. For agriculture, we include the Central Valley, because water connects us, and cover the nexus of ag and nature. For wildfires, we cover risk reduction, ecosystem effects, and all things science, but not firefighting and active fires per se; geographically, we also look at the whole of northern California because smoke travels. We tend to avoid pollution stories since other media do, but sometimes. Both BIL and IRA make big promises about environmental justice and inclusivity, and we are deeply interested in exploring whether the implementation lives up to those promises. We like solutions stories (like this one about kelp forest restoration) and service-oriented journalism (like this piece for small organizations on how to get in on the money).

Rates are flat fees that work out to $0.50-$1/word depending on difficulty and writer experience. If you’ve got an idea we want that requires more funding, we will help with grants/fellowship apps. We work very closely with writers at all levels to help their stories shine. We are more likely to accept ambitious pitches from seasoned writers. Project profiles or other straightforward reportage are better for earlier-career pros. Most of our writers are local, as you’d expect.

The best way to find funded projects is through federal agency announcements, but here’s a map I made of BIL/IRA-funded projects on our radar that you can use a tipsheet for possible stories and a guide to the types of projects that interest us. There are more out there. Here, too, is a table of these projects. We hope this will make follow-the-money stories less daunting to pitch.

Feel free to check with digital editor Kate Golden, who is leading the project, on whether a story has been assigned on a particular project or program. Submit ideas via our pitch form, always.
All pitches will be considered on a rolling basis.