The Watertown Daily Times dates back to Nov. 23, 1895, when John W. Cruger and E. J. Schoolcraft formed a partnership for the purpose of publishing a daily newspaper.
A number of other weekly publications had been publishing during that early era in Watertown, but none had been daily newspapers.
The first edition was four pages and made its way into the public's hands on a Saturday afternoon. That single copy started what are now well over 35,000 consecutive editions without a single missed date.
Back in 1919, when the newspaper was a relatively young 24 years of age, John Clifford secured controlling interest in the company. That acquisition began a long history of Clifford family ownership which continues to this day.
John Clifford's tenure as editor and publisher was cut short when he was killed in a car-train accident in Watertown on Christmas Day in 1922.
Following the untimely death of Clifford, the family named longtime employee J. P. Holland as editor and publisher. He led the paper on behalf of the Clifford family from that point until 1932 when John Clifford's son, John D., came to the paper.
John D. was just a year out of journalism school at Marquette University and had spent a year on a weekly newspaper in Shorewood when he was named editor and publisher of the paper. He continued in that capacity until his death in 1987.
John D. Clifford's son, Jim, joined the paper in 1964 and assumed the title of editor and publisher upon his father's death. The fourth generation of the Clifford family, Jim's son, Kevin, joined the company in 1992 and today is serving as the newspaper's associate publisher and general manager.
Late in 2018, the Clifford family sold the newspaper to Adams Publishing Group, a Minnesota-based chain with newspapers in 20 states. By the end of 2019, APG owned more newspapers in Wisconsin than any other organization. Robb Grindstaff was named general manager of the Daily Times and several other Adams newspapers in southern Wisconsin.
In spring of 2019, Tom Schultz, who was 45 years managing editor and worked at the paper for 53 years, announced his retirement. He was succeeded as managing editor by Scott Peterson, who had spent most of his 40-plus-year career working for Journal Communications overseeing the suburban newspapers surrounding Milwaukee.
After the City of Watertown purchased all the building on the south side of Main Street between the Rock River and Water Street to raze and use the land to build a new community park, Clifford oversaw the newspaper’s move to its new location, 218 S. First St., Watertown in 2019. After that move was completed, Clifford announced he would be leaving the company to focus on his family’s business, Wepco Printing, and other pursuits. He was the last Clifford to work for the newspaper.
Throughout the over 125 years of its existence, the paper has been a leader in technology changes. In its early years, the paper was published on a flatbed, sheet-fed press.
By 1921 a Goss Duplex press was purchased, dramatically expanding capacity. With that press, the paper was able to print eight pages in one section.
This press continued in operation until 1964 when a huge expansion project was undertaken. The physical facilities were expanded and a Goss Tubular Press was purchased from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram. This expanded the paper's capacity from eight pages per section to 24. In addition, the press had the capability to print one color in addition to black.
The usefulness of that press was short-lived because by the late 1960s the new technology of offset printing and cold type typesetting was taking over the industry.
The production revolution struck the Daily Times in 1971 when all new production equipment was purchased and a new Goss Community offset printing press with a 20-page capacity was installed. For the first time since 1916 the clattering of the Linotype machines was stilled. Those huge machines for the most part were sold for scrap.
The new press signaled the age of full color photographs and one-, two- or three-color advertising.
Seven years later, in 1978, the Daily Times purchased its first computer. Since that first computer purchase, the Times has gone through countless upgrades and new generations of computer equipment. Today the entire newspaper, from photographers to reporters and from editors to production, is routinely completed through the use of powerful computers.
In 2003 the company expanded its press capacity by purchasing a four-color unit which allows full color reproduction on four pages, in addition to the two which were available before the acquisition. The press capacity is now 16 pages with six of them having full color capabilities.
With this capacity the paper publishes full color photography and art on all section fronts and on inside pages as needed for advertisers and/or news.
After months of study, Daily Times management decided on a major change and entered into a contract the Gazette Publishing Company of Janesville, publisher of the Janesville Gazette, to publish the Daily Times and other publications formerly printed in the Times plant in Watertown.
An era ended on Sept. 24, 2011, with the final edition coming off the press in Watertown. Two days later, on Monday, Sept 26, the first edition was printed at Janesville. The new arrangement takes advantage of the state-of-the-art printing facility in Janesville and allows color on all pages of the paper, as needed.
The newspaper is served by the Associated Press news and photography service and various national and international news and features syndicates, in addition to generating a wide variety of local articles and photographs with a full complement of reporters, photographers and editors.
The Daily Times is read by over thousands of people in the Dodge and Jefferson county areas. It is published Monday through Friday. Throughout the year over 300 editions are published and distributed throughout the area.
In addition, the newspaper maintains a website which is updated daily. It can be found at www.wdtimes.com.
The Dodge County Independent News is also produced at the Daily Times office in Watertown, as well as the Time$aver, a free-distribution. Among the other papers Adams owns in the area are these dailies: The Daily Jefferson County Union, Janesville Gazette and Beloit Daily News; and several weeklies, including: the Sun Prairie Star, Waterloo Courier, Milton Courier, Lake Mills Leader, Lodi Enterprise & Poynette Press, Waunakee Tribune, Cambridge News & Deerfield Independent, Cottage Grove Herald Independent & McFarland Thistle, and the DeForest Times-Tribune.
DAILY TIMES MILESTONES
Nov. 23, 1895 — John W. Cruger and Edwin J. Schoolcraft publish first edition in building on southeast corner of First and Main streets, now the location of Trader Tom’s.
1904 — Crowded conditions forced the newspaper to move to 212 W. Main St., now Mullen's Dairy.
1906 — The Times again runs out of space and moves to the basement of the Masonic Lodge at 2 E. Main St., now Two Rivers Bikes.
1916 — Fire destroys Masonic Lodge and Times again moves, this time to a temporary location on South Third Street.
1916 — Late in the year Times makes its final move, to the present location at 115 W. Main St.
1916 — First Linotype machine purchased, revolutionizing setting type.
1919 — Long affiliation of Clifford family begins when John Clifford acquires stock in company.
1921 — Second story is added to plant.
1921 — Duplex press is purchased and remained the paper's press until 1964.
1921 — Clarence Wetter begins half a century journalism career with paper.
1925 — United Press Telegraph machines are installed, bringing up-to-the-minute news to the paper each day.
1932 — John D. Clifford joins the company and assumes the position of editor and publisher.
1932 — The first cartoon, “Looey,” was published.
1950 — Building at 113 W. Main St. is purchased and razed.
1952 — Large addition is completed on east side of original building.
1964 — Large addition to south of building is completed; 24-page printing press is acquired from Eau Claire Leader.
1966 — Tom Schultz begins newspaper career that now spans six decades.
1967 — Seventh and last Linotype machine is purchased.
1971 — Production revolution hits the Times as all new production equipment is purchased. The company goes to offset printing and cold type typesetting. All hot metal equipment is sold.
1978 — First computer for news department is installed.
1979 — Times joins Associated Press Laserphoto network.
1985 — Large two-story addition at 117 W. Main St. is constructed and occupied by news, circulation and business departments.
1987 — An era in Watertown journalism ends with the death of John D. Clifford, editor and publisher for over half a century.
1994 — Herro building at 121 W. Main St., formerly the Feed Bag Restaurant, is purchased and remodeled for inserting and distribution operations.
1995 — Building redecorating, open houses, special sections mark 100th anniversary of Times. Over 30,000 consecutive publication dates completed without a single miss.
1998 — The Clifford family acquires Wepco Printing, a job shop printer on North Fourth Street that originally had been the publisher of Der Weltburger, a German language weekly newspaper published in Watertown from 1867 to 1932.
2002 — Daily Times begins publishing electronic edition at www.wdtimes.com.
2003 — New four-color press unit is purchased and installation completed in February of 2004.
2006 — Computerized system for producing printing plates is installed, further increasing efficiencies in production. The new system, called CTP (computer to plate) technology, eliminates several production steps and improves quality of the newspaper.
2008 — Entire print edition of Watertown Daily Times is made available online on a subscription basis.
2009 — Wepco Printing gets a new home when the business moves to the newly acquired property at 108 S. Sixth St.
2011 — Printing operations cease in Watertown and the paper is now printed, inserted, bundled and labeled in Janesville and trucked to Watertown, all in less time than it took for the same work in Watertown.
2012 — With printing operations ended in Watertown, the circulation/distribution center at 121 W. Main St. is sold and became a retail store.
2013 — Completely new computer system for the news and production departments is installed and put into full operation.
2014 — Closed the Dodge County Independent News office in Juneau. Operations moved to Watertown Daily Times.
2015 — The newspaper discontinued Saturday delivery and was now Monday through Friday.
2018 — The Clifford family sold the newspaper to Adams Publishing Group (APG Media) of Minnesota, a chain of newspapers with a presence in 20 states.
2019 — Distribution of the Watertown Daily Times switched from carrier home delivery to the U.S. Postal Service.
2019 — The newspaper switched its billing, news and circulation software to align with other Adams newspapers.
2019 — The Watertown Daily Times switched to full color on all pages. Newspaper pages redesigned.
2019 — The newspaper moved to its new office at 218 S. First St. in Watertown because the city was planning to tear down the old building and the other businesses in the other block to make way for a village square and parkway.
2019 — Newspaper switched to new news, circulation and advertising software.
2020 — The Dodge County Independent News published its last edition as a weekly newspaper on Feb. 27. It was folded into the Watertown Daily Times after that final publication.
2020 — Newspaper switched to new obituary software, Memoriams.
2020 — News paper pages redesigned to replicate look of other APG Southern Wisconsin.