The stories we didn’t tell this year

Help us get more ideas out of purgatory.
An illustration by Shaysa Sidebottom shows a film camera against an abstract background. Emanating from the camera's lens are a ghost, a hand holding an umbrella, and various other objects including a framed picture, a book, and a smiley face.
Illustration by Shasya Sidebottom.

Help us get more ideas out of purgatory.

Building up the capacity to report deeply on culture and politics—the way our readers value it, and the way we want to do it—is really a years-long, if not generations-long, process. Tone Madison has had just eight years. I think what we’ve gotten done in that time is pretty miraculous. But let’s be clear that in this media landscape, we’re still building up from ruins.

Tone Madison is a small, worker-owned publication. We don’t have massive corporate backers or the resources of a legacy outlet. We have you. Direct donations from readers are the main thing keeping us alive. 

In a recent reader survey, we found out that about 75 percent of respondents were willing to financially support us. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to get off the fence. Through December 31, NewsMatch will triple your new one-time donations, or match your new recurring monthly donations 24x. We can make that money go a long way, and it’s crucial that we make the best of this match opportunity.


The days are counting down, and right now we’re still only about halfway to our goal of raising $15,000 from our readers in this campaign. We’re doing a couple things to give you a push: 

  1. Watch our Instagram for a return of last year’s successful “Venmo bingo” game. 
  2. Make a donation of $10/month OR $50 one-time to be entered to win a $25 gift card from Communication, which you can use to pick up some great local art in their retail shop or to buy tickets to one of their events.

Right now, just shy of 400 people donate to Tone Madison, out of the tens of thousands of readers we reach. We need more of you, and here’s why. 

When a piece gets published on our website, that means a whole sequence of things has happened—research, writing, revisions, formatting, more revisions, and finally, sharing it with you via social media and our newsletters.

Each step takes communication, thought, and time. We stretch every last dollar to make this process work. If something can’t make it through those steps, we’re not going to waste your time putting it in front of you. We have standards and so do you.

We know you love our in-depth coverage of music and culture and our uncompromising takes on politics. We want to be able to bring you so much more—writing about every compelling local music release we hear, reporting out every pesky un-answered and un-asked questions about why power works the way it does in Madison. We know you want a chance to read it all. 

We have very limited resources, and so we triage and prioritize as best we can. We’re proud of the work we publish, but the loose ends and unfinished projects and false starts cause us a great deal of angst. Our back-burner purgatory is crowded with the pale ghosts of stories that yearn to come alive. This time of year, I really feel the weight of all that.

Every time you chip in, one of those unfinished projects that’s been haunting us has a better chance of getting done. And none of this gets done without your help. If you haven’t supported us before but care about our work, we need you to come through for us. With your fellow readers and our great team of journalists all pulling together, we will make it more than worth your while.

Thanks so much for your support.

An ode to the best and worst of Madison summers.

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