Wisconsin Examiner



Madison, WI

Tax ID:


Tax-Exempt Status:


Budget (2021):

Revenue: $21,635,211
Expenses: $13,180,253
Assets: $13,800,464


State-Level Media Outlet




Ruth Conniff

Affiliated with:

States Newsroom

Contact InfluenceWatch with suggested edits or tips for additional profiles.

Wisconsin Examiner is an online news outlet located in Madison, Wisconsin launched by States Newsroom. It reports on Wisconsin state politics and policies focusing on left-of-center issues in areas such as civil rights and immigration, education, and the environment. 1 It is funded by States Newsroom which claims to be a “powerful force for social change, uniquely suited to challenging systemic inequality and racism.” 2 Although the Examiner claims to be non-partisan, the commentary articles it publishes are typically left-leaning and its leadership have experience with the left-of-center magazine The Progressive. 3 4


The Wisconsin Examiner is an online news outlet located in Madison, Wisconsin focused on Wisconsin’s government and policies. It was launched by States Newsroom located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in July 2019 5 as its 11th state-level news outlet. 6 Flipboard describes it as the “largest news bureau covering state government in Madison.” 7

Originally a venture of the left-of-center Hopewell Fund, 8 States Newsroom has 39 state-level news outlets as of March 2024 focused on state politics and policy, and a Washington, D.C. bureau that reports on U.S. Congressional, U.S. Supreme Court, and administrative decisions that impact the states. It was launched to focus on state governments, claiming that there has been a decrease in state level reporting by major news outlets. 9

It has described itself as “a progressive political journalism startup” in the past. 10 A Washington Post article described States Newsroom as a news network with state sites that was backed by the Hopewell Fund, “another liberal dark-money group.” 11

The Examiner will cover left-of-center issue areas including civil rights, immigration, education, and the environment. 12

Political Leanings

AllSides Technologies’ media bias program gave the Wisconsin Examiner a media bias rating of “lean left” based on independent review and community feedback. It defines lean left as aligning with “liberal, progressive, or left-wing thought and/or policy agendas.” 13 AllSides was co-founded by three individuals with three perspectives (lean right, center, and left). 14

Although States Newsroom and the Wisconsin Examiner are self-described as non-partisan, many Examiner articles reflect left-of-center sentiments. A March 2024 article shows support for illegal immigrants in Wisconsin, portraying the “plight of trafficked workers.” 15 A March 2024 commentary written by the Examiner’s editor-in-chief discussed the reelection efforts of former President Donald Trump as a “horror movie where people grow numb, unable to take action, as danger draws ever closer.” She also wrote that “[President Joe] Biden has achieved more progressive policy goals than I believe any other Democrat in that race could have managed” addressing inequality, child poverty, and student debt. 16

A February 2024 commentary claims that the Republicans are hypocritical and were “playing political games with immigration” after refusing to support an immigration deal offered by the Democrats. 17


Donations to the Wisconsin Examiner are made to States Newsroom which funds the state level news outlets. Its 2022 tax return reports total revenues of $23,399,713 and total expenses of $18,734.586. It received contributions and grants of $23,316,863. 18

Donors to States Newsroom include a long list of individual donors and several left-of-center institutions and donor-advised funds including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; the American Endowment Foundation; The GroundTruth Project; The Minneapolis Foundation; National Public Radio; the Network for Good; the North Fund; the Pew Charitable Trust; ProPublica; Report for America; the Z Smith Reynolds Foundation; the Wyss Foundation; and the Hopewell Fund. 19 20


Ruth Conniff is editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin Examiner. She graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Conniff worked for the left-of-center magazine The Progressive for almost 25 years in various editor positions in the Madison, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C. locations up to editor-in-chief. 21 The Progressive is published by Progressive, Inc. “with a goal of championing grassroots progressive politics.” 22

Melanie Conklin was deputy editor of the Examiner from 2019 to 2022. She has a master’s degree in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She began her career as a reporter and then became a spokesperson for Democratic politicians U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Dane County Executive Joseph Parisi, as well as the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. 23

Erik Gunn became deputy editor of the Examiner in 2022. He graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in journalism. Before joining the Examiner, Gunn was a freelance journalist who contributed to left-of-center The Progressive and several other publications. 24


  1. “About.” Wisconsin Examiner. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  2. “Finance Manager.” States Newsroom – Staff Openings. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  3. “Commentary.” Wisconsin Examiner. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  4. LinkedIn – Ruth Conniff. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  5. “Find your States Newsroom.” States Newsroom. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  6. Joe Tarr. “Wisconsin Examiner launches.” Isthmus. July 11, 2019. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  7. “Wisconsin Examiner.” Flipboard. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  8. Joe Tarr. “Wisconsin Examiner launches.” Isthmus. July 11, 2019. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  9. “State policies directly affect people’s daily lives.” States Newsroom – About. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  10. “Media Administrative Assistant.” LinkedIn – States Newsroom. Posted in 2020. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  11. Gabby Deutch. “A website wanted to restore trust in the media. It’s actually a political operation.” The Washington Post. February 6, 2020. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  12. Washington Examiner homepage. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  13. “Wisconsin Examiner.” AllSides – Media Bias. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  14. “Ownership Information.” AllSides – About. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  15. Ruth Conniff. “Trapped on Wisconsin farms: The hidden plight of trafficked workers.” Wisconsin Examiner. March 14, 2024. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  16. Ruth Conniff. “Biden v. Trump the sequel comes to Wisconsin.” Wisconsin Examiner. March 7, 2024. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  17. Ruth Conniff. “Border crisis hypocrisy and what’s missing from the immigration debate.” Wisconsin Examiner. February 8, 2024. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  18. States Newsroom. Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax. (Form 990 – Part I.) 2022.
  19. “Supporters.” States Newsroom. Link from Washington State Standard – Funders. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  20. “States Newsroom.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer search. Accessed March 12, 2024.
  21. LinkedIn – Ruth Conniff. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  22. “Mission & History.” The Progressive Magazine. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  23. LinkedIn – Melanie Conklin. Accessed March 14, 2024.
  24. LinkedIn – Erik Gunn. Accessed March 14, 2024.
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: July 1, 2019

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2021 Dec Form 990 $21,635,211 $13,180,253 $13,800,464 $143,528 N $21,592,795 $0 $0 $190,050
    2020 Dec Form 990 $9,976,227 $9,679,997 $5,387,023 $185,045 N $9,951,168 $0 $0 $287,540
    2019 Dec Form 990 $6,982,113 $2,076,364 $5,371,684 $465,936 N $6,982,113 $0 $0 $30,983 PDF

    Wisconsin Examiner

    1414 RALEIGH RD STE 127
    Madison, WI 27517-8834