- Our process
- Keeping the lights on
- Working here
- Open positions
- Pitch a story
- Public Resources
- Contact us
- Content Studio
The Pudding explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays. By wielding original datasets, primary research, and interactivity, we try to thoroughly explore complex topics.
Visual essays are an emerging form of journalism. Some of the most complex, debated topics get lost in “too long; didn’t read” 10,000-word articles. Visual storytelling makes ideas more accessible—or so goes the adage “a picture is worth a thousand words.”
At The Pudding, our goal is to advance public discourse and avoid media echo chambers. We’re not chasing current events or clickbait. We choose topics where visuals both entertain and inform. This means that we invest in research and ignore news cycle noise. We’re in the business of bringing you stories you didn’t know you needed.
We believe in journalism that denounces false equivalence, one that can explicitly say Black Lives Matter, one that never views human rights as partisan issues, and one that believes a person's own experiences are central to strong storytelling.
We hope to be a place that centers and amplifies voices that have long been ignored. We strive for our journalism to be one of key making, not gate keeping, and we won't shy away from stories that tackle racism, sexism, and classism head on.
We are committed to listening, learning, making changes, and being proactive in the fight for equity, inclusion, and racial and social justice.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here at The Pudding, we get asked our fair share of questions. Maybe you can find the answer to yours on our FAQ page.
How we do it
We're a small group that operates as a collective rather than hierarchical team.
Much of our work is done autonomously, with individuals choosing their essays and owning the whole story, from research to code. Each team member can do every step: research and reporting, data analysis, design, writing, and code.
One luxury that separates us from traditional newsrooms is our approach to publishing urgency. There are no deadlines because we are not tied to news events. With breaking news, it's difficult to gamble on weird, ambitious ideas if they must be published. No one will take on risky, creative projects when they're staring at a deadline.
So we experiment, a lot. The creative process feels more like workshopping a movie script than critiquing a bar chart. Consequently, many of our ideas are killed during production, but we wouldn’t have it any other way! It means we’re trying unproven, never-done-before things.
We're also trying to advance the craft. Visual journalism is still in its infancy. We don't have an established pattern language found in traditional reporting. Sometimes we'll attempt an unfamiliar visual approach—not because it's guaranteed to work, but because we won’t know until we try. Rarely do organizations have the liberty to take such risks, yet we're small enough to experiment in the pursuit of quality.
Keeping the lights on
The Pudding is financially viable, bootstrapped, and profitable (intentionally).
There are no ads. There are no subscription walls. There is no venture capital artificially keeping our lights on. Instead, it's our sister-visualization agency, Polygraph.
Want a full rundown of the relationship between The Pudding and Polygraph? Check out our FAQ here.
Some of the reasons why you might like it here:
1. This is a making-it-up-as-we-go, building-the-plane-in-the-air type of organization. Look to us if you want a small, startup feel that’s buzzing with possibility. This is different than other newsrooms that have hierarchies and an established "how-we-do-things," decades-old process.
2. You want to be involved in building something new. Yes, we publish essays, yet plenty of energy goes into perfecting a creative process that's still in its infancy. As part of a small team, your opinion matters a lot.
3. You crave autonomy rather than taking direction. There are plenty of organizations where you can slot into a well-oiled, historically prestigious machine. You'll get an editor, a process, and story assignments. But that also comes with baggage, particularly the creeping conservatism that often accompanies success. This is pretty much the opposite: what you make emerges from your own burning desires—ideas gestating in the back of your head for months (or years!) that you’ve never had the latitude to explore.
4. You're over making noise. We want you to pick projects that don't live and die by the news cycle. You want your work to have a multi-year lifespan. The Pudding underwrites your research interests (go read all the books!) and gives you time (and financial stability) to explore them.
5. Creativity is not a solitary endeavor. If you’re working solo, we’ll give you an editor, or design resources, or coding help. Whatever it takes to execute your vision. What matters is that we help you understand what readers will feel and keep you motivated.
6. Craft matters. We are building tools that make visual storytelling easier. Yet instead of making something for everyone, our tools begin with one group of users: ourselves. Building for general consumer adoption is a noble pursuit, but there’s something special that happens when a toolmaker builds something for their own creative ambitions.
7. You’re keen on building a following. Most of us started doing this work “on the side,” often on a personal blog. You may have experience wielding your own voice and the thrill of finding readers. We don’t want that to be lost by “getting hired” somewhere. Each person needs to have an identity that they'd otherwise cultivate independently.
8. We calibrate our salaries against interactive journalist and data visualization roles. We recognize that our skill sets are not the same as prose-based journalists, and we ensure that folks joining our mission aren’t taking a paycut from the tech world.
Starting Salary Levels
We also bring on ad-hoc editorial assistants to help with data processing, data analysis, and research tasks.
Our team will not be taking on interns for 2021.
Interested in hearing about future positions and internships? Sign up for our email newsletter that will notify you of new career opportunities and open roles at The Pudding. You can also check out our Twitter thread for how-to resources and more ways to get involved with us.
Pitch a story
While we may not have full-time positions open at the moment, we are always looking to collaborate with freelancers on visual stories they are excited to tell. Each quarter, we commission a couple of essays (compensation details below), but we accept story pitches year-round. (Please note that The Pudding does not publish guest posts or sponsored links on our site.) Here are some guiding principles for what we think make a good story:
The idea is worthy of public discourse. Would people debate the premise of the idea for 20 minutes? What assumptions does it challenge?
There’s a deeper truth. What does the story reveal (even if it’s buried deep in the essay)? Does the reader leave the essay feeling differently?
You’re showing, not telling. Visuals make your argument more accessible and less complex than a thousand-word essay.
If you have a story in mind that you're excited about that meets our criteria, send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us about it. Please include the following information:
What to Send Us
- Headline: The hook, describes what this story is about in a few words
- Summary: The elevator pitch, a few sentences explaining the idea and why you're excited about it
- Proof: Are data available to help answer your question or tell your story? If so, have you done any analysis yet? Preliminary data analysis, story boards, or prototypes are very helpful for us to see.
- Assistance: What piece(s) might you need help with from us? While some of our freelance contributors are capable of completing a visual story from end-to-end on their own, we often collaborate with our contributors. Would you need help with data analysis, writing, design, front-end code, or some other piece needed to tell this story? No matter the division of labor, The Pudding always assigns an editor to each freelance pitch we take on, so that there is always someone to bounce ideas off of and problem solve with you.
- Links: Do you have a portfolio, blog, or any other relevant work that you'd like to share with us?
We have a standing meeting on Mondays to review pitches and we try to provide feedback, regardless of whether or not we pursue the pitch, within a week.
Want to know more? In this behind-the-scenes blog post, a contributor writes about the journey of turning her idea into a pitch and a published article.
Need some inspiration? Check out our team idea backlog to find story ideas we've kicked around but haven't started yet. Feel free to take them and make them your own.
We pay $7,000 for end-to-end work on an essay. If we collaborate by providing some assistance in a non-editor capacity (e.g., we do the design), we will lower the compensation accordingly.
This varies greatly from contributor to contributor. Many of the people we collaborate with are working full-time elsewhere and have limited time per week to spend on a story. At that rate, projects often take several months to complete. If a contributor has more time available per week to contribute, we do our best to help move stories along at a faster pace.
At The Pudding, we do our best to work in public. That means that wherever possible, we try to make our process, our code, and our data available to anyone who has an interest in using it. Here are some things that you may find useful:
- Datasets created for our stories
- Our YouTube channel which contains screen casts of our team coding, having conversations about a story’s process, and more
- Backlog of our story ideas
- Emmy nominee and World Press Photo Interactive of the Year in 2021 for our collaboration with the Washington Post
- SND Silver medal for our collective portfolio of work in 2020
- Product Hunt’s Golden Kitty in the WTF category in 2020
- Philip Meyer Journalism Award second place in 2020 for our work on The Boston Globe Spotlight Report Last Words
- Emmy nomination for our work on Vox’s We measured pop music’s falsetto obsession
- General Excellence in Online Journalism from the 2019 Online Journalism Awards
- Data journalism website of the year from the 2019 Data Journalism Awards
- Breakthroughs in Storytelling Award from the Columbia University School of the Arts' Digital Storytelling Lab for the Structure of Stand-Up Comedy
- Information is Beautiful Awards: one gold, two silvers, and three bronze awards
- Stats Excellence in Journalism award from the Royal Statistical Society
- SND Gold and Silver medals for our collective portfolio of work in 2018
- Peabody for our digital journalism in 2017
For business opportunities, including sponsored content, reach out to email@example.com. Pitch us a story via firstname.lastname@example.org. For press enquiries, get in touch at email@example.com. For all other inquiries or comments, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interested in wielding The Pudding's power for your brand? Our team creates custom, white-labeled content via our award-winning visualization studio, Polygraph.
Send us an email at email@example.com to find out more. Get a full explanation of the relationship between The Pudding and Polygraph via our FAQ here.