Laura E. Adkins, contributing network editor, The Forward
“Social media provides unparalleled opportunities to sit in on conversations all around the world and gather stories,” says Laura E. Adkins of The Forward, which provides perspectives on international news as well as on Jewish arts, culture, and opinion. “It’s a vital tool in so many ways. It’s great for hearing from other freelancers about their experiences, crafting your pitches, getting advice, and finding a home for your work. I spend a lot of time on Twitter and different Facebook groups looking for conversation leaders and those with fresh takes on tired tropes.”
Her favorite acceptance to date is Rabbi Philip Graubart’s article “The Holocaust Survivor Who Hated Anne Frank,” a piece she calls “incredibly moving.” “Great tragedies often lose their human element when we talk and write about them in sweeping terms,” she explains. “This piece was raw and uncensored, and surprisingly refreshing. It provided insight into a terrible part of human history in a relatable, humorous, and heartrending way.”
Adkins looks for candid and surprising perspectives. She fields numerous pitches on marriage between Jews and non-Jews. Often, she says, queries on this topic fall flat. Not so Rabbi Aaron Brusso’s “A Letter to Couples of Jewish and Non-Jewish Backgrounds.”
“An honest and beautifully written letter from the heart to prospective interfaith couples, penned by a Conservative rabbi, it really tackled the divisive issue in a sensitive and insightful way,” she says. “It combined everything I’m looking for: experience, expertise, a compelling narrative, and a thought-provoking perspective.”
Adkins advises writers to avoid overreaching in their pitches to The Forward. “If you’re pitching a piece about Iranian foreign policy, you best either be an Iranian foreign policy expert or have a unique and captivating story about what’s going on there,” she says.
Though she might reject an initial story pitch, she urges potential contributors to keep submitting ideas. “One rejected pitch doesn’t mean you should never pitch to me again,” she says. “Take my advice on your pitch to heart, and try again. There are many reasons your pitch could have been rejected, and many of them have nothing to do with the quality of your writing.”