The Capital Times (or Cap Times) is a digital-first newspaper published in Madison, Wisconsin by The Capital Times Company, a joint venture between Capital Newspapers and Lee Enterprises (NYSE: LEE). The Capital Times formerly published paper editions Mondays through Saturdays. The print version ceased daily (Monday–Saturday) paper publication with its April 26, 2008 edition. It became a primarily digital news operation while continuing to publish a weekly tabloid in print. Its weekly print publication is delivered with the Wisconsin State Journal on Wednesdays and distributed in racks throughout Madison.
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 La Follette. 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.
Fierce competition continued between the Wisconsin State Journal and The Capital Times until 1948 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 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.