Subtract Madison, Wisc. from the dwindling list of cities with more than one daily newspaper. The Capital Times, an afternoon fixture for more than 90 years, will cease daily publication in late April and move mostly online. It will continue to publish two free weekly editions.
In its announcement, the paper spun the decision as recognition of readersâ€™ increasing preference for online news sources. However, the economic reality is that the paperâ€™s circulation has dropped from a peak of 47,000 to just over 17,000. Despite the existence of a 60-year-old joint operating agreement with the Wisconsin State Journal, which also covered the story, the numbers werenâ€™t working. Kristian Knutsen of Cap Times competitor Isthmus has a comprehensive reaction and analysis.
The decision â€œwas driven by cool calculation and raw greed,â€ writes Bill Lueders in a column in Isthmus. The newspaperâ€™s publisher begged to differ, saying that the move will rejuvenate the paper and make it a more vibrant voice in the medium where readers are clearly moving. About 40 jobs will be cut as a result of the shutdown of daily operations, with about 20 of them in the newsroom. However, that will still leave 40 editors and reporters.
Afternoon dailies, which were once the mainstay of newspapering, have been going under for years as Americansâ€™ work and reading habits have changed. The decline in the Cap Timesâ€™ circulation is indicative of that trend.
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