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EDITORIAL: Changes at Capital Times portend future

"Give the people the truth and the freedom to discuss it and all will go well." -- William T. Evjue, founder, The Capital Times This quote was a mainstay on The Daily Telegram's opinion page while Mike Payton was editor in the late 1980s and earl...

"Give the people the truth and the freedom to discuss it and all will go well."

-- William T. Evjue, founder,

The Capital Times

This quote was a mainstay on The Daily Telegram's opinion page while Mike Payton was editor in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Payton recognized Evjue's impact on Wisconsin journalism going back to 1917, when The Capital Times was launched in Madison.

So it came as a shock Thursday when a significant change was announced for the legendary afternoon newspaper. On April 26, it will be printed for the last time as a six-times-a-week daily, moving most of its focus to Web publishing. Twice a week, the newspaper will distribute print editions -- news and opinion on Wednesdays and arts/entertainment/culture on Thursdays. Both will be included in the Wisconsin State Journal, its sister paper, and be distributed free on racks.

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This is shocking because, despite its waning circulation (17,000 versus 89,000 for the State Journal), The Capital Times remained an acclaimed newspaper in a growing market. But very few markets have been able to sustain two daily print newspapers. The Daily Telegram is among the few to buck that trend.

It's not because Duluth-Superior is a healthy media market. In fact, it's smaller and more fragmented than many others. More likely, it's because we enjoy a monopoly. Most other media don't acknowledge Superior exists unless there's tragedy to report. But trends can't be ignored. Owners of The Capital Times' made an extremely difficult decision to cease daily print publication. Even more bold was their decision to redirect the efforts of an entire newsroom (pared from 60 to 40 employees) to free distribution products.

Will the venture succeed? Journalists far and wide will be watching, for the Capital Times' future could say much about where traditional newspapers like The Daily Telegram are heading.

We wish them great success!

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