How to Become a Journalist for National Geographic
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National Geographic magazine was created by the National Geographic Society in 1888. In the decades since, the magazine has developed a loyal readership intrigued by its in-depth articles and eye-catching photos covering everything from the wonders of nature to the history of humankind. If you would like to be a part of National Geographic as a writer or photographer, review the writer’s guidelines for its publications.
National Geographic Magazine
Of all the National Geographic magazines, this will be the toughest publication to write for because there is so much competition for jobs. According to the magazine's website, many of its writers have studied the sciences, journalism and English. Some have also studied several languages. Most have extensive experience working for newspapers or magazines. If you seek a staff position as a writer, you will likely need expertise in some of these areas as well as prior experience in journalism. To search for a job as a journalist, go to the National Geographic website and click on these links in order: general, jobs, and career opportunities.
Write for National Geographic Traveler
National Geographic Traveler is published eight times a year. It looks for stories on locales that most travelers will go to on vacation – not just wealthy travelers. For staff writer positions, go to the National Geographic website and click on these links in order: general, jobs, and career opportunities. Unlike National Geographic magazine, National Geographic Traveler does encourage queries from freelance writers. The magazine prefers articles on national and state parks, historic places, train trips, cruises, driving trips and undiscovered places. According to the magazine's website, writers should "see destinations with fresh eyes and real insight. We place a premium on surprise and good storytelling." Unsolicited articles are discouraged. Write one or two well-developed proposals that do not exceed one page each. Send it with resume, writing samples and a self-addressed stamped envelope to the Query Editor.
Take Photos for National Geographic Traveler
National Geographic Traveler has staff photographer positions available from time to time. To find out what's available, go to the National Geographic website and click on these links in order: general, jobs, and career opportunities. National Geographic Traveler also encourages queries from photographers. Assignments are not made to photographers who cannot provide evidence that their published work was taken on assignment. The publication suggests you hone your skills by viewing Glimpse.org. When you feel ready, select the story idea for your photo. Next, create a portfolio that includes no more than 100 photos that you took on assignment. This will demonstrate you can meet the requirement of the publication’s writer’s guidelines. Submit your portfolio to one of the photo editors and send it along with a SASE.
National Geographic Kids
Published 10 times per year, National Geographic Kids magazine is for ages six to 14 years of age. To see if staff writer positions are available, go to the National Geographic website and follow the same instructions included in Sections 1 and 2 above. If you want to get your foot in the door as a freelancer, you will need the expertise to write articles on natural history, science, history and geography. The staff will assign most stories to you. However, you can pitch fun ideas. Just think from a kid’s perspective. Unsolicited manuscripts and phone queries are not accepted. Send a query letter of 250 words with a headline. Queries by mail should be sent to the Science Editor, Associate Editor or Editorial Assistant. You can send your photography pitches to the photo director.
- National Geographic: About Us
- National Geographic Traveler: Writers Guidelines
- National Geographic: Submissions Frequently Asked Questions
- National Geographic Kids Magazine: Submission Guidelines
- National Geographic Traveler: Photographers Guidelines
- History: National Geographic Society Founded
- National Geographic: Jobs
Based in Atlanta, Leslie E. Royal has been writing consumer, business, career, religion and travel articles since 1995. Her work has appeared in "Essence," "Black Enterprise" and "Upscale" magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Georgia State University and a Master of Divinity from Luther Rice Seminary and University.