Newsweek Journo Responded to Every Pitch for a Week. You Won’t BELIEVE What Happened Next


In a perfect world, every journalist would respond to all of our pitches, right? Even a polite “thanks, I might check it out” would be better than nothing at all, wouldn’t it?

Yesterday, Zach Schonfeld of Newsweek posted a piece in which he recounted his experience doing exactly that for a whole week.

Let’s just say it doesn’t sound like much fun.

First his basic statement of purpose:

“for every inbox blast that’s relevant to me, there are four or five more that may as well be from a Nigerian prince”

Oh do we hear you, Zach. Yet he promised to read and respond to everything within 36 hours. More impressively, he planned to respond to all comers but not in a way that would indicate his intention to cover the subject pitched.

Tough job, that.

Here are some of the strangest/worst pitches he received:

  • Something about a “branded” birthday party for Tori Spelling’s two-year-old son
  • “…an email about a professor who is available to comment on Hong Kong’s democracy movement”
  • A pitch from “the country’s largest retrofit insulation company”, which stresses that “Homeowners who live near the Tappan Zee Bridge will really appreciate USA Insulation’s Premium Foam sound-proofing capabilities.”
  • A release beginning “Dear Zach, Why do we look at art?”
  • “an invitation to interview a guy who wrote a book about a guy trying to cure his girlfriend of Ebola” complete with suggested questions!
  • “a biker gang starting a design agency”
  • “an unveiling of a Dalmatian puppy sculpture in Chicago” (he lives in New York)
  • a food truck “exclusively for dogs” (OK, we really need to know how that works)

The most reasonable one, given certain recent trends, might just be “a board-certified diagnostic radiologist” who wants to talk about the death of Joan Rivers.

Keep in mind that Schonfeld primarily covers music.

We are slightly amazed to learn that his record one-day total for pitch responses is somehow only 65.

The big takeaway: none of these emails led directly to a Newsweek “cover story” or even, as far as we can tell, a major placement.

Still, we greatly appreciate Schonfeld’s work in performing and documenting this stunt. It certainly makes us feel better about the quality of pitches we’ve sent, not to mention the quality of pitches we receive.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: September 11, 2014 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT