The Capital Times has a rich, deep history in Madison, but what is most important is what we are today.
Foremost, we are a local news organization delivering authoritative journalism focused on Madison and beyond. We produce a weekly print newspaper, but our primary delivery is digital.
Second, we are a source of progressive opinion through our editorials and essays produced by our outstanding opinion staff and guest writers.
Third, we pride ourselves on excellent events, highlighted by the annual Cap Times Idea Fest each fall, where nearly 100 local and nationally known speakers participate in dozens of sessions on topics ranging from politics to culture. We are also proud of our excellent local podcasts.
Finally, The Capital Times is a major source of local philanthropy thanks to the foundation named for our founder, William T. Evjue.
The Capital Times is a place that embraces more than a century of newspaper history in Madison, but today brings an edge of digital innovation.
About that history: As the capital of Wisconsin, politics is a huge part of Madison’s lifeblood, and the same is true for The Capital Times.
Evjue launched the newspaper in 1917. He was the business manager of the Wisconsin State Journal at the time, but resigned over the paper’s increasingly strident attacks against U.S. Sen. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette to create The Capital Times. As governor, later a senator and the founder of Wisconsin’s progressive movement, La Follette established a reputation as a champion of the underprivileged and an opponent of powerful business interests, but he came under harsh attack for his opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I.
Evjue’s vision for the paper was profoundly informed by progressivism and La Follette’s worldview. While Evjue made it clear in the first edition of The Capital Times that the paper would support the war effort, he also called out “self-servers who seek profits out of the calamities of war” and made that a recurring theme in the paper throughout the conflict.
More broadly, Evjue positioned The Capital Times as a voice of everyday people whose livelihoods and lives were at the mercy of the powerful. That vision led the paper to challenge the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy of “Red scare” infamy in the 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1960s and 70s. Today the Cap Times (as it is most often referred to in Madison) still enjoys that reputation.
It also has a reputation for philanthropy thanks to Evjue. Before his death in 1970, he established the Evjue Foundation and stipulated in his will that profits that would have gone to him would instead go to the foundation to be distributed to worthy causes in the community. Since his death until now, the foundation has distributed more than $60 million in grants to hundreds of organizations that support everything from education to health, the arts, racial justice, the environment, community centers and the Monona Terrace Convention Center. A significant share also goes to the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Of course, much has also changed since 1917. In 1948, The Capital Times Co. and Lee Enterprises (which owns the Wisconsin State Journal) joined forces to create Madison Newspapers Inc. (now Capital Newspapers) — consolidating printing and other central business operations for the two newspapers.
Today the two companies remain business partners and they split profits, but now – as ever – the editorial operations remain separate. Journalism from both the Cap Times and State Journal appears on the madison.com site, along with other community information. Madison.com has been the newspaper company’s shared digital portal since the 1990s.
The Capital Times was printed in the afternoon six days a week under the agreement until 2008, when it ceased daily print publication. Now the Cap Times focuses its efforts first on its daily digital presence on captimes.com, while also producing the weekly print version each Wednesday. On all platforms, politics and public affairs are at the heart of what we do, but we also write about the ways Madisonians enjoy their free time.
In sum, The Capital Times remains an indispensable gem of local journalism and philanthropy that is evolving as quickly as Madison.