NACLA Style and Submission Guidelines: Online
NACLA Report on the Americas is a website and quarterly print magazine that covers Latin America and the Caribbean from a critical, progressive perspective. We offer analysis of the history of U.S. political, military, and economic intervention in Latin America and the Caribbean; we cover progressive governments and social movements in Latin America and the Latinx United States; and we cover the arts and cultural production that have bred and are products of these movements.
We are particularly interested in investigative articles on Latin American and U.S. Latinx political and economic developments, and U.S. policy toward the region.
The following guidelines apply primarily to web submissions. The majority of articles for the print magazine are personally solicited. However, do look out for calls for proposals for future issues.
- Length: Online articles are typically 1,500-2,500 words. We consider other longer web stories on a case-by-case basis.
- To the best of their abilities, our writers tell stories. The use of evocative or jarring hooks, wit, vivid anecdotes, brief profiles of relevant actors, along with a number of illustrative examples and quotations from participants and observers, are fundamental to livening up an article.
- NACLA does not publish straightforward reporting of events. NACLA articles should always include the relevant sociocultural or political-economic context in which the reported events unfold.
- We do not publish articles that were originally written as academic assignments or for publication in academic journals (unless rewritten with a NACLA readership in mind); conference summaries (unless groundbreaking conferences, or critical pieces on very high-profile conferences); or press releases
Queries: All queries for web articles, columns, photos, and audio content from new authors should be submitted via e-mail to email@example.com.
The editors prefer to receive queries rather than finished manuscripts. Only exclusive submissions, please, unless clearly indicated otherwise. Queries should outline the writer's approach to a specific, narrowly defined topic and should demonstrate the style and approach you will take in the piece, and an explanation of why this article is a strong fit for NACLA. Please also mention any sources that indicate original research. Attach (brief) samples of your previously published writing, or links to online sources of these articles. We suggest you review our online content and previous issues of the NACLA Report—available online here—to see if we have already published an article on a topic or angle before you query us.
Queries should be roughly 250 words long. If you have photographs to accompany your article, please make note of that, and attach one or two. Time-sensitive work should be indicated as such in the subject line of your email. Also include a 1-3 sentence bio we can use in your final draft.
Edits: All submissions are subject to editing by the NACLA editorial team, though all final drafts will be sent to the author for final approval. We always edit with an eye toward maintaining the author's voice. Most edits include the following: formatting changes to adhere to NACLA house style; cutting of text; rewording for clarity, simplicity, or vivid evocation; rearranging for clear flow of ideas within argument or storyline. In some cases we will send back the document to you with a written description of the edits or any rewriting we need to see before publishing; in other cases we will make the edits ourselves and send to you for your final approval. Always expect to embark on one to three drafts (more for print articles and fewer or web articles).
Our readers: Our readership includes activists and academics with a range of interests: Latin America, leftist politics, U.S. Latino identity, U.S. imperialism, arts, and culture. While much of our readership has traditionally been comprised of the dedicated, long-term, community of readers who were first activated through NACLA’s investigative work of the 1960s and 1970s, there is now a younger generation of activists—many engaged through the Occupy Wall Street movement and the growing U.S. undocumented youth rights movement—who use NACLA as its primary education tool. NACLA writing should hereon build off this momentum and address itself to this younger generation.
While not made up entirely of specialists, our readership is politically sophisticated, progressive, demanding, and well versed in regional affairs. It is generally concerned with questions of equality, inclusion, and human rights. We aim to give this community refreshing ideas and new analysis to carry into its social justice work. We also want to catch and shape the opinion of those who Google search within the region and come across our articles unexpectedly—a student or senator, for example, traveling to Central America to do “charity work” without prior knowledge of the role of the U.S. military base outside the village she is staying in.
Tone: In order to capture “hearts and minds” and build a strong base of readers genuinely interested in critical progressive perspectives, we aim for the following:
- To offer sturdy, persuasive analysis; we don’t “yell.”
- To avoid unwarranted, ad hominem attacks.
- To illuminate the “system”: the broader set of dynamics that create suffering (poverty, inequality, criminal violence, prejudice, and their many overlaps) in Latin American and the Latinx United States.
- To avoid clichéd writing. For example, we avoid explaining the history of the word “backyard” in U.S. foreign policy, unless using it ironically, deliberately, or critically.
- We avoid idealization, unless using it ironically, deliberately, or critically. For example, we wouldn’t believe that the movements, activists, or governments we generally support have no flaws, or don’t perpetuate forms of violence within the ranks.
- NACLA houses a variety of progressive opinions. We avoid party lines and sectarian battles, and instead encourage debate among writers.
- U.S. hegemony: Contention around the many ways to describe the origins and influence of U.S. hegemony in Latin America abounds. The writer must make a coherent argument backed up with evidence, but as long as it offers a fresh, progressive perspective, we look forward to publishing it.
Avoiding Academic Conventions: NACLA is an interface between activism and journalism with the grounding of academic rigor. Avoid the following:
- The self-referential overstatement of the argument (e.g., “In this article I will talk about X, Y, Z…”) The storyline should speak for itself.
- Extended discussions of the theoretical and methodological issues particular to your field. Focus instead on the matter at hand.
- Much prolegomena. A single “nut graph” (see “Article Structure”) usually does the trick—move onto the storyline as quickly as possible.
- The telling rather than the showing. We don’t talk about the “courageous miners,” but we do paint a picture of their courage by describing displays of solidarity with one another amidst adversity, dangerous working conditions, union busting, and so on.
- Footnotes. Though they are standard in academic writing, NACLA articles no longer employ footnotes. See “Citations” below.
Citations: NACLA no longer uses footnotes. Online articles cite with hyperlinks for essential sources of information, direct quotation, amplification, and clarification. While we will not publish your footnotes, the editors would appreciate knowing the author's sources, especially for claims and statements that might be considered controversial.
For online articles, hyperlinks serve two main functions: They provide a level of interactivity that contemporary online readers are growing accustomed to and therefore expect, and they externalize the grunt work of writing background information so that an article’s analysis can be foregrounded. Potential uses of hyperlinks: direct quotations, paraphrased text, statistics, events, legislation, organizations.
Language: NACLA publishes primarily English-language material with occasional translations into Spanish. We welcome pitches and drafts in Spanish, which we will publish bilingually, depending on capacity.
Facts: While we read all submissions carefully and critically, authors are responsible for the factual accuracy of their work. Frequently we will respond to drafts with specific queries to provide sources for claims and allegations we do not have the immediate availability to verify. Please cite your work using links to help our fact-checking process.
Photos: Freelance photographers should submit a list of countries/themes/dates of their photographic work, and we will call when we have particular photo needs.
Funding: NACLA Report on the Americas is a very modestly funded nonprofit publication. We are able to offer small honorariums to contributors for whom freelance writing is their primary income. If your piece is accepted, we will discuss this fee on a case-by-case basis.
Rights: NACLA reserves the right to include the Article in NACLA book collections and in electronic databases and classroom reprints. NACLA retains republication rights unless a prior agreement has been worked out between the writer and NACLA.
Thank you very much! We look forward to hearing from you.