Skip to main content

The Pudding is a digital publication that explains ideas debated in culture with visual essays.

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.

The Pudding was founded in January, 2017.

Why “The Pudding?”

See etymology.

How we do it

We're six full-time journalist-engineers who operate 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 is no venture capital artificially keeping our lights on. To date, we are partially reader-funded on Patreon and actively seeking grants to support our journey toward independent visual journalism.

(So if you’re from a foundation, don't be shy!)

Our primary revenue sources are 1) essay sponsors and 2) white-labeled content. Sponsorship is akin to what you might find on a podcast..."this article was made possible by Blue Apron."

For white-labeled content (aka client work), we find purpose-aligned clients who want to collaborate on public, visual essays in exchange for fees. And as a team of world-class journalist-engineers, we can be selective (clients include Google, YouTube, Viacom, Kaggle, Kickstarter). So far, we have enjoyed our work-for-hire projects, as they often involve datasets that we'd otherwise never have access to. To avoid confusion with our editorial mission, these efforts are branded under our sister-visualization agency, Polygraph.

Working 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 (i.e., you were told your idea isn’t “accessible”). 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. We’ll be your sanity check for whether the music you're playing is just in your head or actually on the page.

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.

Salary Levels

TitleCompensation
Intern$20 / hour
Jr. Journalist-Engineer$70k
Journalist-Engineer$82k
Sr. Journalist-Engineer$100k
Editor$115k

We also bring on ad-hoc editorial assistants to help with data processing, data analysis, and research tasks.

Open positions

No open positions at this time.

Pitch a story

We are always looking for interesting story ideas and freelancers to work with. Each quarter, we commission a couple of essays (compensation details below). 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.

What to Send

If you have a story that you’re excited about that meets our criteria, hit us up at pitches@pudding.cool with the stuff above. Need some inspiration? Check out our team idea backlog for a jumping off point.

Compensation

We pay $5,000+ 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.

Public Resources

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:

Awards

Contact Us

For business opportunities, reach out to business@pudding.cool. If you'd like to pitch a story, reach out via pitches@pudding.cool. For press enquiries, get in touch at press@pudding.cool. For all other inquiries or comments, drop us a line at sup@pudding.cool.

Our team creates custom, white-labeled visual content for brands via our award-winning visualization studio, Polygraph. We also produce sponsored content on The Pudding (for inquiries reach out to business@pudding.cool).