The Food Section, a feisty newsletter considered one of the preeminent sources of rigorous food journalism from and about the American South, is seeking tough and inquisitive reporters to chronicle the dynamic food scenes in their hometowns.
Founded with the support of a Substack grant to advance local journalism in underserved places, The Food Section was launched in September 2021 with the aim of making up for the dearth of serious food coverage across the Southeast.
Since its debut, the twice-weekly newsletter has been recognized by the Online News Association, Arthur. L. Carter Journalism Institute, and the Society for Features Journalism as one of the best newsletters—about food or otherwise—in the country. In 2023, it beat out Bon Appetit and Garden & Gun for a James Beard Foundation Award, one of two Beards for which it was nominated.
Now, The Food Section is expanding its reach by contracting city-based correspondents in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, northern Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee to publish local editions.
Each city-based correspondent will be tasked with publishing two newsletters per month under The Food Section banner, bringing their readers up to speed on local culinary happenings and putting the news in context, as well as cultivating a base of paid subscribers through high-quality coverage. By engaging their audience with smart, entertaining, and honest writing, this freelance correspondent will emerge as the city’s most trusted voice on all things food and beverage.
Additionally, correspondents will have the opportunity to work closely with experienced editors on longform features for The Food Section, producing pieces that reveal and probe societal values, harmful inequities, local power dynamics, and cultural trends.
This assignment is custom-made for talented writers who have considered creating their own publications, but don’t want to fuss with the intricacies of starting a business, dealing with tech, or peddling an unknown website.
As a bureau chief for The Food Section, you’ll have immediate access to the newsletter’s influential and sizable readership. Moreover, The Food Section will promote your work, and handle everything required to put your words and images in subscribers’ inboxes.
The pay is $200 a month, plus 60 percent of all subscription revenue generated by your newsletter. For example, if The Food Section: Memphis in its first month builds an audience of 412 paying readers, you would receive $1,436 for the two newsletters you authored--and would continue at that same pay rate until the publication acquired more paid subscribers.
Correspondents will also get first crack at The Food Section’s monthly freelance slot, valued at $1,000.
The perfect candidate
Previous food writing experience is not required for this position, although an appreciation for the subject is necessary to produce the kind of magnetically interesting stories that The Food Section guarantees its readers. Strong news judgment, excellent communication skills, and the ability to take decent food pictures with a mobile phone are also desirable traits. Because compensation is based on paid subscriptions, applicants should have an entrepreneurial spirit and feel comfortable promoting their journalistic work on social media and in conversation.
The ideal candidate will shun press releases in favor of breaking news, identifying fresh angles, and developing deeply sourced stories that readers can’t find anywhere else. The candidate should be comfortable with meeting deadlines, obtaining public documents, and cultivating contacts in diverse groups. Additionally, because The Food Section stresses on-the-ground reporting, you must live within 30 miles of the bureau that you apply to lead.
Finally, the highest standards of ethics and accuracy are essential to this role.
To apply, send an introductory email describing an edition of the food newsletter you’d like to read in the city you’re proposing to cover to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also include a link to at least one writing sample, and any relevant social media accounts.