Mission & History

A voice for peace, social justice, and the common good! 

Since 1909, The Progressive has aimed to amplify voices of dissent and those under-represented in the mainstream, with a goal of championing grassroots progressive politics. Our bedrock values are nonviolence and freedom of speech.

Based in Madison, Wisconsin, we publish on national politics, culture, and events including U.S. foreign policy; we also focus on issues of particular importance to the heartland. Two flagship projects of The Progressive include Public School Shakedown, which covers efforts to resist the privatization of public education, and The Progressive Media Project, aiming to diversify our nation’s op-ed pages. We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. 

We publish multiple stories every day on our website, and also produce a bimonthly magazine featuring investigative reporting, cultural and political analysis, and poetry.

Our story

“Fighting Bob” LaFollette championed progressive causes at the turn of the 20th century as Governor of Wisconsin and later as a U.S. senator.On January 9, 1909, Senator Robert M. La Follette Sr. of Wisconsin founded this publication to be a magazine of “progress,” aiming to document the work of those resisting corruption and working to protect representative government. With our first editor, Belle Case La Follette, a women's suffrage, peace, and civil rights activist, Fighting Bob dedicated the magazine (originally titled La Follette’s Weekly) to “winning back for the people the complete power over government —national, state, and municipal—which has been lost to them.”

The La Follettes dedicated the pages of the magazine to exposing and attacking private greed in the form of corporate monopolies that hoarded power, championing the public interest, and seeking social and economic justice. A lone advocate for peace among U.S. Senators, Bob La Follette urged the United States not to entangle itself in foreign wars.

That founding mission of peace, social justice, and the common good continues to serve us well today. 

Our first editor, Belle Case La Follette. After the death of her husband in 1925, she vowed, “The magazine will go on.

The Progressive is fortunate to have had powerful writers grace its pages, including Wendell Berry, Edwidge Danticat, Barbara Ehrenreich, Jim Hightower, Eduardo Galeano, Luis Rodriguez, Terry Tempest Williams, and Dave Zirin. 

Some of America’s leading poets—Adrienne Rich, Martín Espada, C.K. Williams, and Rita Dove—published original work in The Progressive. People we've interviewed in the past include Howard Dean, Ani DiFranco, Steve Earle, Janeane Garofalo, Danny Glover, Amy Goodman, Mikhail Gorbachev, Seymour Hersh, Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, Barack Obama, Michael Pollan, Robert Redford, Martin Sheen, Joseph Stiglitz, Helen Thomas, Alice Walker, and Elizabeth Warren.

In 2009, we celebrated our centennial with, Democracy in Print: The Best of The Progressive magazine, 1909-2009 (Univ. of Wisconsin Press), including contributions from Jane Addams, James Baldwin, Louis Brandeis, Theodore Dreiser, Sen. Russ Feingold, Molly Ivins, June Jordan, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sinclair Lewis, Milton Mayer, Arundhati Roy, Bertrand Russell, Edward Said, Cindy Sheehan, Upton Sinclair, Gore Vidal, Paul Wellstone, and Howard Zinn.

The Progressive’s Editorial Policy

The Progressive is a reader-supported, nonprofit, independent news organization that has been speaking truth to power since 1909. Our mission is to be a voice for peace, social justice, and the common good. Our commitment is to quality writing and accurate, fact-based reporting. All editorial decisions are made to advance these goals. The Progressive is a nonprofit supported by our readers. We are beholden to no group, party, or ideology. Our acceptance of donations from readers, fees from advertisers, and grants from foundations does not drive our editorial judgment. We subscribe fully to the standards of editorial independence adopted by the Institute for Nonprofit News, meaning that we retain full control over editorial content, consistent with our journalistic and organizational goals.  While the Progressive may accept donations to support the coverage of particular subject areas, we maintain full editorial control of the coverage. No one outside the organization is allowed to assign, review, or determine editorial content. The Progressive is organized as a 501(c)(3) and thus does not endorse any political parties, candidates, or ballot measures.

Donor Transparency

The Progressive is committed to transparency in every aspect of the funding of our organization. Accepting financial support does not mean that we endorse donors or their products, services, or opinions. We accept gifts, grants, and sponsorships from individuals, organizations, and foundations to fund our general operations, coverage of specific topics, and special projects. Our news judgments are made independently — never based on or influenced by donors or their organizations. We do not give financial supporters the right to assign, review, or edit content. The Progressive makes public a list of all donors who give a total of $5,000 or more per calendar year.

Need assistance?

Email: info@progressive.org. Phone: (608) 257-4626. We are located at 931 E Main Street, Suite 10, Madison, WI 53703

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Donations: (608) 257-4626

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Writers Guidelines

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