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If your publication or station has assigned you a story, all the planning just described is the first stage of your investigative process. But if you are a freelance journalist, the planning provides the information you need to create a really convincing pitch for an editor. A pitch is a short presentation that explains what the story is about and attempts to persuade the editor to run it. It needs to contain the following elements:

  • >   A revised story outline
  • >   Why the story is right for this particular paper or readership
  • >   A brief account of approach and methodology
  • >   A timeline
  • >   A budget

Some media outlets will also expect you to be able to contribute to a discussion of how the publication should present the story – pictures, graphics, etc. – while others leave such issues to editors and designers. In any case, bear in mind that the publication might not like your story. For this reason, it’s important to pitch only the most essential information and avoid presenting milestone findings, so you will be able to pitch your story in another newsroom.