David Moye is truly one-of-a-kind, as you’ll see in our interview. Aptly referred to as the Czar of Bizarre, David has been writing about “weird” news for 20 years, most recently for the Huffington Post. Before that he was reading palms as a professional psychic and dabbling in PR. If you have a client with some truly weird news, be sure to read this interview for some of David’s specific best pitch advice.
1. What publications/ outlets are you currently reporting for?
My main gig is writing weird news for Huffington Post, where I have been for 4.5 years.
2. What topics/ beats/ stories are of special interest to you right now?
Weird News is a great beat because I can write a story about politics, religion, sex, paranormal, entertainment, sports, business – anything as long as it is weird. As Christmas approaches, I am looking for strange, bizarre and wacky products for my annual weird Christmas gift guide.
3. Please provide a brief bio.
I grew up in La Mesa, California, where I still live. I like music, ocean swimming, songwriting, bad films, food, and long walks. I am a former professional psychic who still does reads palms after a couple of beers. I can’t imagine not being a writer because my abilities are limited at everything else. Family is very important to me. My wife and kids are my rocks of Gibralter.
4. Why did you become a journalist?
There are people who like to write and those who have to write. The ones who have to write become writers. I was always compelled to express myself. Whether I have anything worth of expressing is up to you.
5. What stories (or project) of yours are you most proud of and why?
OK, be careful of asking this to a weird news journalist because a lot of my best stories also happen to be those that skirt the lines of taste. I am very proud of the work I did on Catarina Migliorini, a Brazilian woman who participated in an online auction of her virginity.
I also enjoyed writing this story about how the creator of the board game Operation needs an operation himself. As a result of my story, this man – who had been ignored by history – got a chance to see how much the world loved his creation:
Really enjoy doing the weird gift guides because it allows me to be funny in a way I can’t in a traditional news story:
As for stories I wish I had written? Just check out HuffPost Weird News. We have a staff of writers whose talents I envy. Each day, one of my fellow writers has a story that I wish I had written:
6. What’s the best pitch you ever got?
It’s hard to think of perfect pitches. I can’t think of one offhand. A perfect pitch is funny without trying too hard, has a unique angle that can be easily explained in a few sentences and has compelling visuals without a lot of muckity much (watermarks really suck).
A good pitch has no quotes that begin “we are so excited.”
7. What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?
Be familiar with my work. Be aware that weird news is, by its nature, outrageous. Therefore, you have to craft a pitch with that in mind (and not just paste a boilerplate pitch). Be aware that the first three letters of my alphabet are WTF, not ABC. I’m more inclined to listen to a pitch if you’re upfront that your client is a delusional idiot rather than making it sound like they are Gandhi reincarnated. If you tell me your client is a great interview it makes me think that they won’t say anything interesting. A better bet is to tell me your client has no filter and tends to speak without thinking.
Good photos are crucial for any story and should be upfront in any pitch. HARO does strip out photos but if you have good ones, let me know. But don’t send a huge zip file or dropbox link with hundreds of photos I have to sift through.
If you have photos, make sure you title them something that explains what they are when I do a search. Sometimes I have to go back to a photo and scroll through a bunch titled “IMG.”
Create unique angles to stories. I’ve done this for 20 years so I’ve heard it all and always like something new.
Attempt to engage me about non-work topics. Friendships are a good thing regardless of the business.
8. When do you prefer to be pitched? How much lead-time, or what days/times are most appropriate?
I’m pretty open most days, but prefer email. If you’re trying to reach out via social media, that’s fine, use Facebook, not Twitter. If a story is good, I can turn it around quickly, but start pitching me for my gift guides six weeks in advance. I do gift guides for Halloween, Xmas, V-day, Moms Day, and Dads Day. If you make fun of the product behind the client’s back, it’s probably a good fit for me.
9. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I have worked as a publicist and recognize how hard it is. In many ways, it’s harder than journalism. PR is the only professional career where your client knows more than you. A person wouldn’t tell a doctor, “I don’t care if it’s an ankle sprain, you’re removing my spleen! Got it?”