Pitch us a story

Contributing to Tone Madison

Tone Madison accepts story pitches from freelance writers, audio producers, videographers, photographers, and illustrators. If we’re interested in your idea and trust your ability to execute it, we’ll work with you and pay you for your time. Please take note of the following guidelines.

If you’re interested in digging into the complexities of culture in Madison, exploring overlooked angles, and above all serving an audience that cares, we might have a place for your idea.

Do

  • pitch us stories about visual art, music, games, books, comedy, film, media, politics and broader cultural issues in Madison. 
  • focus on the local, local, local, local. How is it connected to Madison, and why does a Madison audience care about it?
  • make sure you’re familiar with the scope and voice of our coverage. Successful pieces freelancers have pitched us include a reported piece on changing COVID safety measures at local venues, a feature on avamt-garde folk outfit Pelt, a look at the collaborative art exhibit Intercambios, and an analysis of public health and incarceration in Dane County’s budget.
  • pitch longer feature ideas for our website and shorter ones for Microtones, the column that appears in our weekly email newsletter.
  • tell us how you’d offer a distinctive perspective on your subject. Have a point of view, a feeling, an informed and thoughtful response. Tone Madison is a place where writers are encouraged to have a strong voice, not to act as passive conduits.
  • explain your story or project idea, why you think it would be valuable to our audience, and how you’d go about executing it. It’s OK if you don’t have a formal journalism background—our contributors come from all sorts of backgrounds, and that’s how we like it.
  • share some links to your previous published work. No need to include a cover letter or resume, but feel welcome to informally tell us a bit about yourself if you’d like.
  • make sure you’re pitching us at least a month in advance, if the story is pegged on a particular event.
  • approach works of art and music with taste and a critical eye.

 Don’t

  • pitch stories that promote projects involving close friends or loved ones (or, in case this isn’t obvious, things you’re directly involved in). We’re here to do journalism, not favors. If you have a potential conflict of interest, be up-front with us about it. If it’s a great story idea, we’ll see if there’s an appropriate way to proceed.
  • be afraid to pitch ideas for our podcast, even if you don’t have much audio experience. If it’s a good idea, we can work with you to make the audio components come together.
  • shy away from opinions or passion, but back your assertions up with facts and arguments.
  • be flat, neutral, or promotional in your writing voice.
  • pitch us coverage of touring music, touring theater etc. This isn’t a big area of coverage for us right now, though that may change in the future.

Send story ideas to [email protected]. We also accept pitches for guest columns from members of the Madison community with something to say about cultural issues.

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