Publish with GroundUp

Articles must be original 

We have a policy of only publishing original material. Please do not offer us material that has been published elsewhere. That applies to both news reports and opinion pieces. We do not publish press releases. advertorials or puff pieces.


Except in rare circumstances, we do not publish articles with the byline of an organisation, or anonymously. We prefer to publish articles with the bylines of the people who wrote them, even if they wrote the article for an organisation.


By default, we assert that all material published on GroundUp is our copyright. However, our copyright is very permissive. We almost always publish under a Creative Commons license that allows anyone else to republish the article, so long as the author and GroundUp are credited, and the original article is not modified in any substantive way. We do this because we want articles we publish to be widely read. If you prefer an article you publish with us to be copyrighted or licensed differently, please negotiate this with us before, not after, publication.   

Freelance news

Freelance reporters and photographers are welcome to submit briefs to us by email: A brief should be a paragraph explaining the story you wish to report. If we like the idea you have proposed we will discuss it with you and give you the go-ahead. All freelance articles must be accompanied by a photograph, preferably taken by you, that we can publish without breaching copyright. We also accept photo essays. We pay a fee for freelance work if and only if we publish. The fees we pay from 1 December 2015 are as follows:

  • R250 for a single photo
  • R450 for a brief news article (approximately 450 words or less) with a photo 
  • R900 for a full-length news article (approximately more than 450 words, but generally fewer than 800, and definitely fewer than 1,000) with a photo
  • R1,500 for a simple feature including at least one photo, but preferably two (we make a judgment call on whether the feature is simple or complex, and our decision is final)
  • R2,000 for a complex feature including at least one photo, but preferably two (we make a judgment call on whether the feature is simple or complex, and our decision is final) 
  • R900 for a simple photo essay, consisting of at least four photos (we make a judgment call on whether the photo essay is simple or complex, and our decision is final) 
  • R1,500 for a complex photo essay, consisting of at least four photos (we make a judgment call on whether the photo essay is simple or complex, and our decision is final)  

Please note that we have to deduct 25% tax (PAYE) on these fees, unless you invoice from a company (in which case you have to sort out your tax yourself) or provide a SARS tax directive (in which case we deduct the percentage specified by the tax directive). We recommend to freelancers to submit annual tax returns and claim money back from SARS.

Sometimes (not often) we are willing to negotiate a higher fee upfront with experienced reporters.

We usually fact-check freelance contributions.

Never intentionally write false facts

Our reputation depends on the honesty of our contributors. If any contributor to GroundUp fabricates any aspect of an article submitted to us for publication, upon discovery we will withdraw the article and permanently ban the contributor from writing or working for GroundUp again. We are also likely to publicise what happened, including the name of the contributor. On this issue there are no excuses and no second chances.


GroundUp gives preference to opinion pieces that are relevant to current news topics and interesting. Opinions on social justice issues are particularly welcome. Your article should be original and it should be clear to us that you actually know something about the topic you're writing about, and that you are not just armchair commentating. Try to keep your opinion piece between 600 to 1,000 words. We are less likely to publish very long articles unless they are extremely well written and engaging. Insults are not a good form of argument, so keep them to a minimum. Write in plain English. Articles littered with waffle, hyperbole and strongly held but evidence-free opinions are unlikely to be published.

We don't care if you use British or American English or split your infinitives. If you are a second-language English speaker, please don't be afraid to submit an opinion piece to GroundUp. We don't mind grammar errors and typos, so long as the article is coherent. We'll correct grammar and typos before publishing. But do note that articles that are unintelligible because of grammar errors and typos are unlikely to be read properly by our editors and therefore unlikely to be published.

Avoid the current fashion in online journalism of substituting proper research with wordplay. We would prefer a dry opinion piece with concise intelligent arguments over one that uses wit to disguise vacuousness.

If we decide to publish an opinion piece, expect to spend a bit of time on the phone or email with one of our editors, checking your facts and discussing ways to improve the text. 

We do not pay for opinion or analysis articles unless we explicitly commission them, which is rare. If we do commission an opinion or analysis piece, we may negotiate a payment with the writer.