Write for CRO

Writers’ Guidelines

Coastal Review Online, or 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 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 an advocacy publication. We’re not interested in slanted “news” stories or features that promote a particular point of view. 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.

CRO is the only nonprofit news service in Eastern North Carolina that is a member of the N.C. Press Association.

How to Write For Us

  • Email a query or unsolicited manuscript. Your carefully considered letter or finely wrought story will get a response. 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.
  • 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.

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 CRO 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 sections. Check the list below before submitting a query.
  • Although we work with writers we already know for high-quality and dependable writing, we also aim to find and stimulate new contributors who write 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.

Guest Columns: If you have an interesting opinion about a coastal issue and can state it succinctly and persuasively, we’d like to share it with our readers. Well-written guest columns can sway hearts, change minds and perhaps even reshape public policy.

To encourage debate and discussion, Coastal Review Online welcomes differing opinions about topical coastal issues. Our guest columns generally are 800-1,200 words, but we’ll consider columns of any length as long as they are factual, clearly written and persuasive. The columns must be original and not have appeared in another print or online publication. Visit our Guest Column page for more details on how to submit a guest column. We don’t pay for guest columns.

Our Coast: As the name implies, this section contains stories that give readers insights into the N.C. coast — its people, places, history and culture, food and nature.

  • 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? Some examples: Rodney Kemp and Orrin Pilkey.
  • Culture and History: These stories delve into who we are as a coastal people — our history, our traditions, our food. We’re interested in stories that connect human history to the coastal environment, that explore important coastal traditions, that connect food to those traditions. Some examples: Ca’ Bankers,  Hurricane Hazel and a Century of Dining in Wrightsville.
  • Places: Here, we feature “green” travel stories that offer readers places where they can experience the natural beauty of the 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. Some examples: Buxton Woods, a Wetland for Wood Storks and the Starriest Sky on the East Coast.
  • Plants and Animals: These stories give our readers a better understanding and appreciation for the coast’s native plants and animals. Well-crafted profiles of individual species and comprehensive stories on the threats faced by those species are welcomed, as are thoughtful essays on the natural world of our coast.  Examples: Hints of Autumn, Plight of the Monarchs and Life at the Surf’s Edge.

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. 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.

Science: We are always looking for stories that advance people’s understanding of the science that underlies most coastal environmental issues. These could be stories about new research into topical issue or that sheds new light on old problems. We also seek stories that explain the science behind threats to species or their habitats. While we don’t require that the writers of these stories be scientists, we do insist that these stories be well-researched, balanced and written in a clear, lively style.

Special 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.

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.