Wow. I'm not privy to the corporate calculations of the Madison press, but I would have never expected The Capital Times, "Your Progressive Voice," to be the one to acquire Wispolitics.
Frink said WisPolitics will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary, with no integration of staff or connection to the editorial philosophy of The Capital Times. "Media companies spend countless hours talking about how to monetize news and information on the web," Frink said. "WisPolitics has been doing it."
...Paul Fanlund, Capital Times editor, said, "We hope The Cap Times can gain from what WisPolitics has learned about online business models."
(Before I comment on the decision I should fully disclose that I have proposed blogging and/or reporting for both publications. I have not written for the Cap Times but I have written one article for WisBusiness, which is affiliated with WisPolitics.)
The Cap Times could definitely catch up on a few things it should have known before it transferred from a daily to a primarily online paper. It only recently began updating the various "blogs" in its political section, and it's finally developing a presence on social networks. But most of its political commentary still comes from a handful of old bulls writing traditional editorial-style opinion pieces. There seems to be very little effort, for instance, to appeal to young people. Its joint website with the State Journal can feel impossible to navigate, and for that reason it's not the go-to website for online seekers of political news.
WisPolitics does understand the value of rapid-response political news that appeals to the political junkies and insiders who make up its readership. That is probably the only aspect of WisPolitics the Cap Times should seek to adopt. WisPolitics has limitations of its own. Its news stories tend to suffer from the paralyzing belief that reporting what both sides say yields a fair story on an issue. There is very little meaningful analysis of policy and its opinion commentators tend to be boring or partisan hacks. The worst example is "That's Debatable" -- a snide back-and-forth between Scot Ross and Brian Fraley, in which both deliver the party talking points that every WisPolitics reader is beyond familiar with.
WisPolitics could be so much more. It could have analysis of policy and politics that reads between the lines of the press releases, as well as commentators from across the political spectrum who give thoughtful insight into state political debate.
Hopefully the two sites will borrow from each other's strengths and learn to improve together. Lord knows the People of Sconz Nation need better news reporting.