Tone Madison Ambassador Kit

Thank you for your interest in making a gift to Tone Madison. With your help, we’re enriching Madison with our locally focused culture and politics coverage, and we’re paying journalists for their work. Most of the funds we bring in go directly towards paying our freelancers and staff. Your support ensure a vital future for independent media in Madison. Let’s work together to build a publication of lasting value to the community we love.




Stories in 2022 So Far

Highlight: A more vivid look at Madison’s live music over summer 2022.



Stories in 2022 So Far

Highlight: The 2022 Wisconsin Film Festival diaries



We hired our first News and Politics Editor, Christina Lieffring, in September. Adding even a new part-time staff position represents a huge leap for us—something we’ve been working toward for the last two years. Christina has an ambitious vision for Tone Madison’s refreshing local politics coverage. Look for deeply reported series on the issues that impact our city and state, uncompromising commentary, and journalism that upholds factual and ethical standards without the “both-sides” nonsense.


Unusual and unheralded artists are the priority in our music coverage. Through longer profiles and shorter reviews, we kept readers abreast of the sheer variety of music people make in Madison. We also showed that serious reporting has a place in music coverage, examining local venues’ attempts to recover from the pandemic and breaking news about changes at Madison music institutions like Spruce Tree Music and B-Side. Most years, we’re also the only Madison outlet that runs an in-depth roundup of the year in local music—look for that again in January.


UW-Madison officials kept it quiet for almost a year, but in June we reported about damage to one of the ancient Indigenous mounds on campus. It required months of delicate reporting to put the story in context and gain the trust of multiple sources—the kind of work that’s usually left to much bigger news organizations with dedicated investigative reporting teams. No other outlet covered this story.

In July, we reported that a large Madison landlord had banned the use window air-conditioning units, even during a May heatwave that pushed temperatures up into the 90s. This also took a lot of careful, tenacious work. No other outlet covered this story.

In March, we reported on plans for a transphobic conference in Madison, and the efforts local activists were making to counter-program it. No other outlet covered this story.



Tone Madison is all about quality over quantity. This means we’re able to deliver coverage that has real depth, despite having very modest resources. It also means that for every story idea that gets published, there are probably a dozen more we had to leave on the table. We want to gradually build up our capacity. We’re already on course to expand our politics coverage. We believe that with careful planning, we can steadily increase the amount of work we’re able to publish in our other core subject areas: music, film, and art.

Before the pandemic, we also published a selective but in-depth weekly calendar of interesting music and cultural events around Madison. That part of our work is still a long way from recovering. In partnership with Madison Minutes, we’ve been gradually getting back into the habit.

And we have other ideas! A quarterly print publication! Specialized email newsletters! Developing more podcasts and multimedia! It won’t happen overnight. But you can help us leave fewer ideas on the table.


Media jobs are drying up at a staggering rate. Local news has borne the brunt of this decline. We simply must create more jobs and freelance opportunities that pay well. Otherwise, talented people will continue to burn out and leave journalism entirely, or will gravitate to national outlets largely concentrated on the coasts. Madison is no exception to this dynamic—we lose great journalists all the time, especially young people and people of color.

No one’s getting rich off of Tone Madison. Instead, we are focusing our resources on creating better opportunities, carefully and sustainably. To keep attracting excellent journalists, we need to increase our freelance rates—which are already better than those of many established local and even national outlets. Each of our five staff editors make the same hourly wage, and we’d like to be able to offer health benefits and paid time off. This is about doing great work for our audience, but it’s also about valuing people and making our community a better place. As we seek to hold other institutions accountable, we also hold ourselves to high standards.


We have a great audience. We know that there are more people out there who would value what we’re doing. Even though we are a niche publication, we know we haven’t reached our full potential. Getting there will take time and effort—holding more events, building up deeper partnerships with other publications, conducting more audience surveys, and of course the crucial challenge of growing our email list. But the most important part remains the same: Sustaining and expanding quality independent journalism that matters to people in our community.



It’s the best way to keep up with our work.

  • Tuesdays: our latest stories
  • Thursdays: a subscriber-first column that brings Madison’s most unusual stories and curated links from around the net.


  • It’s easy to give online, click the button above!
  • In Nov. & Dec. the national NewsMatch campaign will double your donations.
  • Please contact Scott Gordon directly for larger gifts ($500+).


Monthly donations are the backbone of Tone Madison, giving us the stability we need.

  • NewsMatch will double the full-year value of new monthly donations in Nov. & Dec. So a $15/month gift means you’ve raised $360 for Tone Madison.


  • December 10 and 11 | We’ll be tabling at the Eastside Winter Market at Garver Feed Mill.
  • 2023: Keep your eye on our email newsletter for more events!


Tell people why supporting Tone Madison matters to you!

We’ve put together some draft language that will help—feel free to use any of this and put your own spin on it!

Hi _,

There’s no other media outlet that covers our city the way Tone Madison does. I’m supporting Tone Madison during a crucial year-end fundraising campaign, and I’m asking you to do the same. During November and December, a national program called NewsMatch will double readers’ donations up to $15,000. And if we all contribute to an additional, local matching fund, we can triple our impact.

If you want to contribute to Tone’s matching fund, please reply to this email or contact their publisher, Scott Gordon, directly: [email protected]
Tone’s an independent website that’s been publishing since 2014. The journalists there have filled a void in local music and culture coverage, going out of the way to spotlight the lesser-appreciated bands and artists in our community. The publication’s voice is sharp, inquisitive, funny, and sometimes harsh—but it’s never dull, and always challenges Madison to do better with what it has. Over time Tone Madison has grown from a passion project into a successful, reader-supported publication, branching out into news and politics coverage along the way. Today it has tens of thousands of readers and even a small staff.

I’ve still found out about a lot of artists and events from Tone Madison’s coverage. That’s because they prioritize the stuff that gets short shrift everywhere else. They look where others aren’t looking, and find extraordinarily valuable information and insight. This includes deeper reporting and commentary on the arts. Tone Madison isn’t afraid to ask pesky questions and poke the bear.

Tone Madison is also doing exactly the kind of political coverage we need in Wisconsin right now. They take care with the facts, but also don’t pull their punches and the avoid wishy-washy “both-sides-ism” that afflicts so much of American media. With all the political challenges we face in our state and country, I want Tone Madison to be able to do even more hard-hitting, inventive, and adversarial journalism.

Help Tone Madison out and get in touch with [email protected] if you have any questions. You’ll be making our community a smarter, better, more connected place.

Get your new monthly donation matched 24x!

tone madison logo in blue and yellow

At a time when Madison is going through a lot of change, we want Tone Madison to be something you can count on. You can rely on us to spotlight the artists, musicians, and ideas that make up the fabric of our city. You can rely on us to challenge the status quo with inventive, adversarial journalism, including our coverage of abortion rights, housing, and labor. 


But here's the thing: reader support is crucial our survival. We'll keep writing the articles you love (or love to hate) for as long as we can—but we need your help to keep our small, independent publication going.


If you make a new monthly donation today, NewsMatch will match it 24x! Will you help us continue to tell Madison's stories?

Maybe later

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