As Madison’s Capital Times marks its 100th anniversary in 2017, editors Dave Zweifel and John Nichols recall the remarkable history of a newspaper that served as the tribune of Robert M. La Follette and the progressive movement, earned the praise of Franklin Delano Roosevelt for its stalwart opposition to fascism, battled Joe McCarthy during the "Red Scare," championed civil rights, women’s rights, and LGBTQ rights, opposed the Vietnam War and the invasion of Iraq, and stood with Russ Feingold when he cast the only US Senate vote against the Patriot Act. The Capital Times did not do this from New York or Washington but from the middle of America, with a readership of farmers, factory workers, teachers, and shopkeepers who stood by The Cap Times when the newspaper was boycotted, investigated, and attacked for its determination.
At a point when journalism is under assault, when newspapers struggle to survive, and "old media" struggles to find its way in a digital age, The Capital Times remains unbowed—still living up to the description Lord Francis Williams, the British newspaper editor, wrote 50 years ago: "The vast majority of American papers are as dull as weed-covered ditch-water; vast Saharas of cheap advertising with occasional oases of editorial matter written to bring happiness to the Chamber of Commerce and pain and irritation to none; the bland leading the bland.… Just here and there are a few relics of the old fighting muckraking tradition of American journalism, like The Capital Times of Madison."
About the Author
John Nichols has been associated with The Capital Times for more than 20 years; currently he is Associated Editor of the Opinion pages. He is a national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine and is the author or coauthor of ten books. He received the 2013 Council for Wisconsin Writers Major Achievement Award. He is a commentator for the BBC and a guest on radio and television programs in the United States and abroad.