When I describe the Cap Times to people, I say we have three distinct yet highly complementary parts.
First is a staff of editors and reporters who produce first-rate journalism, one that focuses on public affairs across all communities in the city and beyond. We also have the best writers on arts and entertainment in the market. In Madison, our staff is second in size only to the Wisconsin State Journal’s. Our group is a next-generation team of consummate professionals as skilled in social media and podcasting as they are in writing and editing.
Our second part is the philanthropy of the Evjue Foundation, our charitable arm. Created by and named for Cap Times founder William T. Evjue, the foundation donates about $2 million per year — more than $60 million in all since Evjue’s death in 1970 — to worthy and wonderful causes, choices informed by our immersion in all things Madison.
Third, and today’s focus, is our famed opinion voice and how it is changing. Opinion is in our DNA. Through the decades, our opinion voice has been adamant and on the right side of history — for civil rights and social justice and against unjust wars like Vietnam and the scourge of McCarthyism.
In recent years, it has been led by Dave Zweifel, our celebrated editor emeritus hired by Evjue himself, and supported by John Nichols, our nationally respected associate editor, and by me, in this column space.
Today, we are announcing a new voice of Cap Times opinion, someone who is already a familiar name to our readers — Jessie Opoien, our award-winning political reporter.
Jessie is becoming our opinion editor, replacing Lynn Danielson, who is retiring. Jessie, a Wisconsin native who joined the Cap Times in 2013, has established herself as an outstanding Capitol reporter, a journalist respected for her even-handed and insightful reporting.
Proving that point, she won four awards in the latest Wisconsin Newspaper Association contest, including first place in the ongoing coverage category for stories about the state opioid crisis. She also won honors for her Wedge Issues podcast, for a story about the debate over whether school teachers should be armed and for a shared effort with colleague Katelyn Ferral — a story about Democratic lawmakers calling on then-gubernatorial candidate Matt Flynn to drop out of the race. And that was just this year.
In her new role, Jessie will help to shape our institutional editorials as part of the editorial board and she will also work to bring new opinion voices to our mix of guest writers each week, but you will notice her most in two ways. The first is through her award-winning political podcast, which will continue with new episodes each week. The second is through a new weekly column, the first of which is online today.
We’re confident that Jessie’s political insight and journalism acumen, combined with her native understanding of what makes Wisconsin work, will serve readers in the great tradition of the Cap Times. Please join me in giving her a warm welcome.