How to Write for Us

Coastal Review Online is always looking for talented freelance writers who are knowledgeable about the N.C. coast. Read the guidelines before submitting a story idea or completed manuscript. And, please, no phone calls. We have a small editorial staff that stays busy with the Web site. Email is the best way to reach us.

Writers' Guidelines

Coastal Review Online (CRO) is a daily, online publication that contains news, features and commentaries covering a wide variety of environmental and conservation issues and events along the N.C. coast. It also contains features about the coast’s natural history and culture, profiles of its noteworthy people and “green” travel stories about its places.

CRO is published by the N.C. Coastal Federation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation dedicated to the protection, preservation and restoration of the N.C. coast. Though the federation frequently advocates for better protection of our coast’s natural resources, CRO is not, strictly speaking, an advocacy publication. We’re not interested in slanted “news” stories or features that promote a particular point of view, even if it’s our own. We seek instead intelligent, well-reported and well-written stories that meet the highest journalistic standards for accuracy, fairness and balance. We believe in giving our readers the truth as best as we have divined it. We trust that they will then come to the right conclusions. 

How to Write For Us

  1. Comment on stories. Start writing now. No hassles, hardly any questions asked. You'll get immediate exposure, the joy of seeing your name in lights, perhaps a moment or two of fleeting fame.

  1. Email a query or unsolicited manuscript. This is the delayed gratification route. Your carefully considered letter or finely wrought story will get a response, but please remember that we have a small editorial staff and publishing the Website each day is about as much as we can handle. So be patient. If we don’t know you, include at least three writing samples with article queries. If we like your story idea or completed manuscript, we will send you a contract, which can be electronically signed.

  1. Send a portfolio. If you are a photographer, illustrator or videographer with a N.C. coastal environmental angle or project, we’d love to hear from you. Professional status is good, but good work is even better.

If you don’t want to contribute content but have a juicy tip for us to pursue, tell us about it. The magic gnomes will make sure your note gets to the right person.

What We Pay

About half the stories that appear in CRO are freelance written. Articles are generally 800-2,000 words. The fee we pay depends on a variety of factors, including the experience of the writer and the amount of time and research required to complete the piece. The fee may be lower if we have to spend a lot of time extensively editing and re-writing. We are a non-profit and our scale is below market rate, but we typically pay $75-$200 for articles. We generally pay within 10 days of an article’s acceptance.


We purchase first-time serial rights, except in rare cases of excerpts from recently-published books. (First-time rights include the right to publish the material on the federation Website and archive the material indefinitely on the site.)

Tips for Writers

  • Get to know us. Look over our archives to understand the topics and writing styles we’re interested in.
  • You are writing for the general reader who cherishes the beauty and natural diversity of the N.C. coast. Writing in the third person in a journalistic style is usually the best way to convey complicated issues to our readers. We use the Associated Press Stylebook as our guide. So should our writers.
  • CRO contains news, features and recurring departments. Check the list below before submitting a query.
  • While we don’t require that writers be scientists, it’s important that our stories be accurate, comprehensive, balanced and well-researched.
  • Although we work with writers we already know for high-quality and dependable writing, we also aim to find and stimulate new contributors who speak passionately for and about the N.C. coast. For writers who are new to us, we generally work on speculation.
  • Be sure to include brief bios with your stories. We like to tell our readers something about our writers.


We encourage you to browse our archives to read past installments of these departments.

News and Features: This is the bread and butter of CRO, making up the bulk of the content. We’re looking for strong, well-researched, nonfiction storytelling about coastal environmental and conservation issues, topical events and features on virtually any aspect of our coast’s natural history and its human history as it relates to the environment. While features often focus on aspects of the federation’s work, few subjects are taboo. Writers should look for ways to cast new light on established issues. We are more interested in showcasing environmental solutions than adding to the list of environmental problems.

Our Coast: This is our “green” travel guide that offers readers places where they can experience the natural beauty of our coast. Kayak and canoe trips, hiking trails, camping destinations are all fair game. As are features about national wildlife refuges and state parks, businesses that highlight some aspect of coastal culture, and museums and cultural arts centers. We are looking for stories that weave events, discoveries and environmental insights into the narrative. While we prefer that these stories be written in the third person, we’ll consider compelling first-person narratives.

Coastal Sketches: These are profiles of people who have or are working to protect or preserve our coast. It could be the scientist conducting research on a major coastal environmental problem, the politician promoting coastal policies, the activist fighting a polluting industry and news makers of all sorts and stripes. These are not meant to be cradle-to-grave accounts of someone’s life. The object of these profiles is to give readers insights into why the subject does what she does. The stories should answer the question: What makes these people tick?

Meet Our Volunteers: These short (500-800 words) profiles focus on the people who donate so much of their time to help the federation. The profiles should tell readers something about the volunteer and why their work is important to the federation. Most importantly, the stories should explain what volunteering means to the subjects.

Investigative Reports: These stories, which typically are divided into series of several installments, are usually written by staff, but we will consider assigning them to freelance writers whose work we know and trust.

State of the Coast Report: Stories here follow a theme throughout the course of year. Past reports focused on climate change, stormwater pollution and oyster restoration. Like our investigative stories, they are staff written, but we’ll consider contributions from trustworthy writers.

Your Voice: Here, readers can submit letters to the editor and op-ed pieces about coastal issues and topics or respond to stories they’ve read on CRO. Most op-ed pieces are commissioned. We don’t pay for contributions in this department.

Guidelines for Photographers/Videographers

Much of CRO’s content is accompanied by photography and/or artwork. Authors supply most of the photos for their stories. We rarely do photography by assignment.

From time to time, we also publish photo spreads, slideshows or essays with minimal text. We also are interested in video clips. We see these as vital components in achieving the site’s mission. We’re interested in photo spreads or video that is not only skillful but also conveys an underlying understanding of our coast, and a new way of looking at it. We are interested in both color and black-and-white photography. Our preferred medium for publication is high-quality, high-resolution digital files.

Photographers may submit images on speculation; they should be high-quality digital images with appropriate caption information.  Payment is negotiable.