Tone Madison covers news and politics?

Now we (officially) do!
A photo shows the author seated at a table at a sidewalk cafe, facing the camera.

Now we (officially) do!

This is our newsletter-first column, Microtones. It runs on the site on Fridays, but you can get it in your inbox on Thursdays by signing up for our email newsletter.

Hello! I’m Christina Lieffring AKA “the person who writes that snarky Capitol column,” Capitol Punishments. Now I am also the News and Politics Editor at Tone Madison

Over the past few months, Tone Madison continued to ramp up its news and politics coverage, most recently with JT Cestkowski’s coverage on “the slow drip of Madison’s coffee-shop unions,” Dan Fitch’s ongoing coverage of the new Dane County Jail, and Managing Editor Oona Mackesey-Green’s coverage of abortion and Madison’s own crisis pregnancy center. I’ve pitched in as well, covering the worst of Wisconsin’s state politics in Capitol Punishments as well as stories on taxes, transit, abortion, and of course, Michael Gableman.

Now, part of my job as the News and Politics editor is working out what makes a news or politics story a Tone news or politics story. 


It’s a work in progress, but here are some rough guiding principles that we’ve come up with:

  • Madison connection—I mean, it’s in the masthead. But for statewide stories, they should have some connection to an issue either in Madison or that Madisonians care about.
  • Politicians are not your friends—No horse races. No pulling punches. We elect politicians to implement good policy to make our lives better. If they’re not doing that, it doesn’t matter if it’s an R or a D next to their name. Hold them accountable. However,
  • No both-sidesism—We want to hold all politicians accountable, but there’s a difference between falling short of expectations and actively working to harm our communities. Maintain a sense of perspective. 
  • Actions > Words—People say a lot of things. But instead of letting our coverage be guided by bad quotes or dumb tweets, let’s focus on what is actually happening.
  • Punch up—Who has power and what are they doing with it?
  • Impact—How does this affect everyday Wisconsinites and Madisonians? How does it impact people who are typically overlooked, or targeted? Who is most impacted?
  • Is it kinda weird?—Doesn’t need to be, but that’s part of the fun of independent media. We can be a little weird, snarky, or goofy.
  • Context, context, context—Good news articles leave readers feeling like they understand not just what is happening but how and why. The best of them spark curiosity and help readers see the world a little differently. 

If you’re thinking, “that’s a little broad”: yep! It sure is! That’s because I want to hear your ideas, whether you’re a reader telling me what you want to read, a community member who wants to tell me about what’s going on, or a writer who wants to write for us.

Which gets to the last point: pitch me! Having an inbox full of pitches from writers from a diverse set of backgrounds, races, classes, sexualities, gender identities, interests, and specialties is the dream. I want Tone Madison to be a place where writers feel they will be treated with respect and get the support they need to do great work. 

I’m at [email protected]

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