Newspaper dumps print edition

Is this a sign of the times?  The Capital Times, an afternoon newspaper in Madison, Wis., is moving most of its operations online.  Editor Dave Zweifel announced this week that the Times is dropping the print edition in favor of the Web:

The daily newspaper will no longer be hamstrung by an unyielding deadline that locks us into content that can’t be changed until 24 hours later. On the Web, that “paper” can change with the news on a minute’s notice.  All of this, unfortunately, doesn’t come without a downside. Because producing the news for the most part electronically doesn’t require as many people, there will be a reduction in our newsroom staff and in Capital Newspapers’ production and circulation departments.

The Times will add a semi-weekly print magazine for subscribers.  Most afternoon newspapers in the United States folded years ago, while the Times kept going thanks to a joint operating agreement (JOA) with the morning paper in Madison. That JOA is likely to provide the funds to sustain the new Web paper.

How will the Times online plus magazine be different from the dead tree version?  Zweifel told Poynter’s Jill Geisler that the journalists who remain will need new skills:

Snappier and witty writing style for the Web. Ability to brief and condense breaking news, but also to do multiple-source analytical and explanatory journalism for a magazine-type format.

Interesting that he doesn’t mention multimedia.   Seems to me that boosting the use of video and audio, adding interactivity and all the other elements that make Web journalism its own specialized form would be critical to the success of an online news publication.