Illustration: Cube-like abstract shapes against an orange background. Illustration by Maggie Denman.

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.

(If you’ve found this page and are looking to reach out to Tone Madison to promote your event or project, please see our Contact page for more information.)


  • 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 avant-garde folk outfit Pelt, a reported profile of an organization that advocates for immigrant workers, a look at the collaborative art exhibit Intercambios, a commentary on the Madison Police Department’s use of tear gas, 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. 
  • do not feel the need to do a bunch of reporting on-spec, but give us a general idea of the approach you propose.
  • 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.
  • (For returning freelancers:) check out our Discord, especially our “freelance calls for pitches” channel and see if there’s a story there you could take on.


  • 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.
  • pitch us stories pegged on events that are less than a few weeks away. We need to be able to work ahead on anything event-centered, and we just don’t have the capacity to turn around last-minute previews. We can sometimes work on shorter turnaround times in extraordinary circumstances, but even two weeks out is pushing it for us.
  • pitch us breaking news or dry news-y reporting. We look for reporting and writing that gives people context and perspective they’re not getting in other local publications.
  • pitch us concert reviews. We don’t run those at this time.
  • 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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