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Daily Paper To Drop Much of Print Version In Shift to Web.

The Capital Times of Madison, Wis., is set to drop its daily print newspaper and shift resources to the Web starting in April, according to editors. The move was announced today. It will now print two weekly tabloid editions.

The 16,500-circulation afternoon daily, owned by the local Capital Times Company, has been publishing since 1917, according to Associate Editor John Nichols. He said the switch to the Web is not a financial move, but an effort to fully embrace the future of news. He said that as far as he knows this is the first daily to make the full switchover.

The Web shift shift will take effect April 30.

"It is hard to be an afternoon daily newspaper in the world of 24/7 television and the Internet." Nichols told E&P today. "It is hard to keep fresh and current." He said the paper's Web audience has soared in recent years.

"We will have a full staff covering state and local news, sports and opinion online. We will do everything that a daily newspaper in a decent-sized city does, but digital," Nichols said.

He added that the Web site, in place for more than seven years, will remain free. The Times plans to launch two free weekly newsprint magazines, one with news and opinion and the other offering culture and entertainment.

Nichols said the 60-person news staff will likely be reduced through early retirements and other non-layoff attrition, leaving a staff of at least 40 to 45 to continue covering news.

Editor Dave Zweifel said the paper chose to make the leap because the outlook for an afternoon daily is not good, even one that is profitable like this one. "We have been able to hang on, but I think the impact of the Web has really exacerbated it," Zweifel said of the state of afternoon papers. "We can sit here and continue the way we are, or take a step into the future."

Paul Fanlund will become editor of The Capital Times, effective immediately. He has been executive editor since August 2006. "We believe our plan to combine an outstanding news and information web site with in-depth, magazine-style weekly tabloids is on the mark for the future," Fanlund said in a statement. "This move is vital to ensuring the long-term relevance of the Cap Times."

Zweifel, 67, has served as editor since 1983. He will assume the new title of editor emeritus

The Times competes with the morning Wisconsin State Journal, a Lee Enterprises paper with a larger circulation of about 87,000. Both papers share profits through the Madison Newspapers Inc., a non-JOA partnership. It has a liberal editorial slant, and claims to be the first daily to call for the impeachment of President Bush.

The paper describes the move this way: "Late this spring The Capital Times will dramatically enhance its Internet site as well as alter its print frequency from six days to two days per week to address changing habits of afternoon newspaper readers, company executives announced Thursday. The Capital Times will focus much of its efforts on its Web site,, seven days a week, and will feature increased volume, depth and timeliness of news, opinion and other information."

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Comment:Daily Paper To Drop Much of Print Version In Shift to Web.
Author:Strupp, Joe
Publication:Editor & Publisher
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 7, 2008
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