What We Do

The aim of Madison Commons is to connect various layers of our communities together through communication. To achieve this, it has been active in three major areas.


1. Community Reporting

To encourage communication within and among communities, we believe that local issues should be circulated and debated in a public and informed manner. This is the reason we are putting a great emphasis on community reporting.

- Three main themes: food, education, transportation

Based on several inquiries, we have found three major areas that are important to our community but are not covered deeply enough in other local media outlets. The three topics food, education and transportation are closely related to our daily lives,  and can easily branch out to more public issues. Our goal is to provide stories that do not simply scratch the surface, but to connect those beats to various aspects of civic life. 

Our food reports do not aim for Yelp-like restaurant recommendations, but tries to cover broader food issues such as community gardens and reach to health, environmental and sustainability issues. Education reports are not limited to school events and weekly lunch menus, but tries to address education budget issues, equality among neighborhoods and civic education. Similarly, transportation reports deal with bike paths, maintenance issues and public transport policies.

- Community reporting partnerships

To collect various local reporting  and utilize them to build connections in our community, we put a great emphasis on community reporting partnerships. So far, Madison Commons has been partnering with neighborhood organizations including East Isthmus Neighborhood Planning Council (EINPC), the Eastside News, the South Metropolitan Planning Council (SMPC) and its Southern Exposure, and the Northside Planning Council (NPC) and its Northside News. We have also worked with the Simpson Street Free Press to train young reporters. We are also actively pursuing a partnership with Community Shares of Wisconsin.

Local media partnerships past and present include The Capital Times, Wisconsin State Journal, Isthmus, and Channel 3000. They include news reprints and collaboration efforts such as All Together Now.

Another close partner is the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Our editorial advisers include several faculty members of the department, and student reporters from several journalism courses offer contribute their community reporting. 

Last but not least, the single most important partnership we pursue is with you. We strongly encourage you to take part in the discussions on local issues, send us ideas, and eventually to write stories for us. Here are some suggetions on what you can do.


2. Training Citizen Journalists

Two crucial ingredients are needed for a community communication project to thrive, which are active participation and good journalistic quality. Since its inception, Madison Commons has provided a citizen reporting training workshop for local residents. Here you can find material from past training sessions, and also a selected list of the people who received the training. Currently the on-site workshops are currently on hiatus (as of April 2011), but we are looking forward to resuming them. Please contact us if your community is interested. Meanwhile, you can read through some basic online resources we have collected.


3. Research

Madison Commons is an actual community service and an academic project at the same time. We are researching theoretical implications and analyzing our practical experiences, to find ways to build a better community through communication. Academic research on Madison Commons by our team include book chapters and journal articles.


Questions, problems, suggestions? Please contact us at: Madison Commons Project School of Journalism & Mass Communication 5115 Vilas Communication Hall 821 University Ave. Madison, WI 53706-1497 Email: metzler2@wisc.edu