The Capital Times (or Cap Times) is a newspaper published in Madison, Wisconsin by The Capital Times Company. The newspaper is primarily distributed in a 19-county region in south-central Wisconsin. The Capital Times formerly published paper editions Mondays through Saturdays, with a weekday circulation of 19,355 and a Saturday circulation of 21,065. The paper ceased daily (Monday-Saturday) paper publication with its April 26, 2008 edition. It became a primarily Internet-based daily news operation while continuing to publish twice-weekly free paper supplements.
The Capital Times began publishing as an afternoon daily on December 13, 1917, competing directly with the Wisconsin State Journal. The Cap Times' founder, William T. Evjue, previously served as managing editor and business manager of the State Journal, a paper that had been a supporter of the progressive Robert La Follette, whom Evjue considered a hero. When La Follette began publicly opposing World War I, the pro-war State Journal abandoned La Follette. In response, Evjue abandoned the State Journal and formed his own newspaper, The Capital Times, one that would reflect the progressive views he espoused. The newspaper's motto was and continues to be "Wisconsin's Progressive Newspaper."
Rumors were spread that the new newspaper was editorially pro-German because of Evjue's support for the anti-war LaFollette. As a result, shortly after publishing the first issue, The Capital Times faced an advertising boycott. Evjue, resolved to beat the boycott, visited nearby communities selling $1 subscriptions. By the summer of 1919, the newspaper had a circulation of over 10,000 and the advertising boycott ended. In November 1927, the paper launched a Sunday edition.
During the 1920s, The Capital Times co-owned the left-wing magazine The Progressive along with the La Follette family.
Fierce competition continued between the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times until the late 1940s when the newspapers could not afford to replace their aging equipment. After years of attempting to scoop each other and competing for advertising and circulation, the newspapers entered into consolidation talks in the hope of maintaining both newspapers.
After tense negotiations, Lee Enterprises, owner of the Wisconsin State Journal, and Evjue's The Capital Times Company formed Madison Newspapers, Inc. (now Capital Newspapers) on November 15, 1948 to operate both newspapers under joint agency.
On February 1, 1949, the Wisconsin State Journal moved from afternoons to mornings and became the sole newspaper published on Sunday in the partnership. The Capital Times continued to publish on weekday afternoons and Saturday mornings.
The Evjue Foundation
Following the death of its founder, William T. Evjue, in 1970, his controlling interest in The Capital Times Company was transferred to The Evjue Foundation, established a few years earlier to make small donations to worthy causes.
As explained in a section of The Capital Times' website devoted to the Foundation's history, proceeds from Evjue's bequest
must go to organizations that best exemplify the beliefs that he championed during his lifetime, causes that could improve the quality of life for all the people in the Dane County area.
Accordingly, this bequest (initially valued at $13,450) makes the Evjue Foundation the majority shareholder of The Capital Times Company, in addition to being co-owner of Capital Newspapers.
As of 28 February 2005, the Foundation's assets totaled $24,501,817, with $2,296,514 available for grants.
Switch to the Internet
On February 7, 2008, with The Capital Times facing declining circulation (a problem facing the newspaper industry in general and afternoon dailies in particular), the paper announced it would cease daily print publication April 26, 2008. From that point, it would "shift its focus" to regular news updates on its website, , as well as publish a more widely distributed free weekly print edition. As of the April 30, 2008 edition, The Capital Times appears twice weekly, on Wednesdays and Thursdays, in a 48-page tabloid format (moving from its long-time broadsheet style) that is included with the Wisconsin State Journal and distributed free at newsstands in the Madison area. The move gained national attention as it involved a prominent daily newspaper shifting to full-time electronic news distribution while at the same time keeping a traditional (albeit non-daily) newspaper format.
The two Capital Times editions have distinct formats:
- The Wednesday edition is a traditional news-and-opinion format, with more in-depth reportage, analysis, and regular columnists.
- The Thursday edition runs under the name 77 Square (for the number of square miles within the city of Madison), and feature entertainment and lifestyle articles and listings (replacing the Thursday "Rhythm" section that appeared in both the Capital Times and State Journal). The company stopped bringing this edition in early 2014, while retaining the brand online.
As part of the move, The Capital Times saw its staff reduced from about 64 to 44 positions, with 20 additional printing and distributing positions at Capital Newspapers eliminated. Among the prominent staffers departing the paper were associate editor Joe Hart and features columnist Doug Moe (who moved to the State Journal in the same role). Capital Times executive editor Paul Fanlund took the title of editor, while editor Dave Zweifel became editor emeritus; Zweifel had been with the paper since 1962 and editor since 1983.
- Bill Berry (editorial)
- Roundy Coughlin (sports)
- Ed Garvey (editorial)
- Phil Haslanger (editorial)
- Mike Ivey (business)
- Margaret Krome (editorial)
- Adam Mertz (sports)
- Joel McNally (editorial)
- John Nichols (editorial)
- Barbara Quirk (features)
- Dave Zweifel (editorial)