Interview with Cori Vanchieri, Features Editor at Science News

Cori Vanchieri is features editor at Science News with more than 25 years of experience as senior editor with the Journal of the National Cancer Institute and Annals of Internal Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Magazine, and at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s magazine, the HHMI Bulletin.

Science News is a biweekly magazine and a daily news website. They accept freelance pitches for online news stories, book reviews and features. Read it all in Cori’s interview with Viney Kirpal, a personal essay and health writer.

VK: With many science news outlets around, is it difficult to compete with them?

CV: No. There are a lot of readers out there in the world and so many science stories to tell. We’re a small, nonprofit newsroom with 28 staff producing daily coverage online at, a biweekly print magazine and Science News Explores (print and web for younger readers). The print magazine is mailed to 114,000 subscribers, including almost 5,000 high schools (many in underserved communities). Our website gets most of its traffic from search. Our mission is to provide independent, accurate reporting, and empower people to evaluate the news and the world around them. We have a lot of long-term readers, but we’re trying new ways to reach new audiences, including a new foray into Tik Tok.

 VK: What questions do your readers seek answers to?

CV: The goal of Science News is to meet our readers’ desire for independent, accurate science news on topics we know they love (Pluto!) or that are crucial for staying on top of changes in research and society (brain implants and privacy) or that explore our ancient past.

Science News appeals to members of the public who have a curiosity about the world around them, who want to know how things work and keep up with the latest research findings in all areas of science. Our mission is to provide independent, accurate coverage of science and empower people to evaluate the news. We also sprinkle in plenty of stories about the wonders of the world around us.

I’d say our readers get most excited about our physics and space coverage. But we’ve certainly been drawing lots of readers to our daily COVID-19 coverage. The stories on the pandemic that drew the most readers were the practical ones, on the confusion around back to school guidelines and what experts told one writer to do after her positive COVID-19 home test.

VK: I love the articles in your ‘science and society’ segment. What’s the concept behind it?

CV: I love these stories too. Science & Society is a pretty broad category, but it covers the intersection of science and our daily lives. Many of these stories are written by staff writer Sujata Gupta, who joined the Science News reporting team in 2019 to cover the newly created social sciences beat. She covers the human condition and helps readers see how science can help us all understand what’s happening to us and the world at large. She has her radar out for stories of cultural importance that may improve the lives of underrepresented populations. She attacks the topics from a unique, research-based viewpoint.

One of my favorites is her feature on the broadening definition of the good life. The pandemic, Gupta argues, is a perspective-changing moment. She described how perspective-changing experiences can lead to a richer life. Her feature, Road to the Good Life, generated a flood of letters from readers who saw themselves in the story, and even earned a Tweet from renowned poet, novelist and essayist Margaret Atwood.

VK: Wow! That’s pretty amazing. It would be really interesting to know more about how has furthered our understanding of life, nature and science?

CV: We try to make every one of our stories help readers see the world around us, how we affect the environment and the important role science plays in our understanding of all of it. In 2021, we hit our 100th year of reporting. For this big anniversary, we launched a deep-dive website, Century of Science, to review major advances across the sciences that have transformed our understanding of the world. From the status of climate change science, to the long fight against infectious diseases, to the  promise and perils of new materials, to the origins of our species, plus much more, the series connects current events to currents of the past. A total of 14 “themes” explain how our understanding of a grand scientific question has changed as new evidence has come in – essentially, how we got to where we are today. A key project goal was amplifying the voices of those who’ve gone unheard in science. We covered the disproportionate effects of climate change and the COVID pandemic on marginalized people, the lack of diversity in genetic research and the exclusion of non-white voices in the writing of the story of human evolution. A collection on “Unsung characters” highlights the contributions of unrecognized scientists.

VK: In an ocean of very interesting takes on science news, how can you help freelancers’ pitch you more successfully?

CV: We accept freelance pitches and share a template so that pitches will be brief but hit the high notes of the story’s focus, its import, and whether it answers the “why now?” question. Please don’t pitch a general topic. We are looking for stories that help readers learn about new research that affects their world. It is definitely worthwhile taking a look at our website,, to see how we’ve covered the topic in the past. Your pitch should check one of those boxes. A strong pitch will provide compelling answers to the questions below.

  1. What’s the nut graf, the main news of your pitch? (3-5 sentences)
  2. Why do we need to tell this story now? (3-5 sentences)
  3. What main new research results will you base this story on?
  4. What else should we know?  Famous researchers? Does the issue affect lots of people (not just researchers)? New approach to a problem? Does this cover an incremental or a seismic shift in thinking? Critics/opposing views? On-the-scene reporting?
  5. What visuals or multimedia will go with your story? Any data we could graph/plot/chart?
  6. Links to previous Science News coverage related to this idea.

Please send your feature science stories to: Features editor Cori Vanchieri: Please cc:

VK: Do you pay contributors?

CV: Oh, and yes, we pay for stories at competitive rates! We pride ourselves in the accuracy and integrity of our content. We expect the writers we hire to get the science right and double-check things they aren’t sure about. We also ask writers to annotate their stories so we can get them fact checked. It takes work, but the end result is that readers have confidence that stories appearing in Science News are solid.

VK: Thank you many times over, Cori. That’s a fabulous pitch guide for contributors! Besides, the links to your unusual science stories already published by you are going to inspire the readers of FWW to visit your website and try their hand at pitching your publication



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