Madison, WI is the latest two-newspaper market to become home to only a single daily. The afternoon Capital Times announced that it will cease print publication on a daily basis in late April and, instead, produce daily content on its website and publish tabloid issues twice per week. Since 1948 the Capitol Times has been jointly owned with the morning Wisconsin State Journal by Madison Newspapers Inc., a company owned 50/50 by Lee Enterprises and The Capital Times Co., the latter now primarily owned by The Evjue Foundation, established by Times founder William Evjue. When the two dailies went under combined ownership in 1948, the agreement required that they maintain separate newsrooms, although the advertising, production and circulation departments were combined.
RBR/TVBR observation: Having made the shift from print to electronic publishing ourselves, the experiment being launched in Madison seems preferable to simply shutting down the smaller of the two dailies. It will be interesting to see if the scrappy news staff will be able to build web readership by having more attitude than their co-owned competitor and occasionally scoop them as well. They’ll also find that local TV stations, radio stations, alternative news sites and others are also after the same eyeballs, so the Internet is a very competitive place. Of course, the key will be whether local advertisers are able to understand how to use a web-based news operation to attract customers.