Christian Science Monitor to discontinue daily print edition
The century-old Christian Science Monitor said Tuesday that it would discontinue its daily print edition in April and move almost exclusively to online publication, becoming the first major national newspaper to abandon a daily paper-and-ink format.
The move, which had been expected by industry professionals and the Monitor staff, will cut annual costs by millions of dollars for the money-losing newspaper, which is subsidized by the Christian Science Church. The publication’s management and some staff members also contend that the online format will make the report more timely to subscribers, most of whom receive the Monitor by mail a day or two after the paper goes to print.
But the change will present considerable risks. Unlike most daily newspapers, the five-day-a-week Monitor receives the bulk of its revenue from subscriptions, not advertising.
The Monitor plans a new weekly magazine to maintain its print presence, but that is expected to bring in only a fraction of the $9.7-million circulation revenue it receives annually. To compensate, the publication will have to increase online advertising dramatically.
Note: Despite its name, Christian Science (officially known as The First Church of Christ, Scientist) is not a Christian denomination. Theologically, it is considered a cult of Christianity as its teachings and practices are incompatible with Biblical Christianity.
The changes at the Monitor will include enhancing the content on CSMonitor.com, starting weekly print and daily e-mail editions, and discontinuing the current daily print format.
This new, multiplatform strategy for the Monitor will “secure and enlarge the Monitor’s role in its second century,” said Mary Trammell, editor in chief of The Christian Science Publishing Society and a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors. Mrs. Trammell said that “journalism that seeks to bless humanity, not injure, and that shines light on the world’s challenges in an effort to seek solutions, is at the center of Mary Baker Eddy’s vision for the Monitor. The method of delivery and format are secondary” and need to be adjusted, given Mrs. Eddy’s call to keep the Monitor “abreast of the times.”
The coming changes, over two years in the planning stage, occur at a time of fundamental transition in news publishing and turn the page on a remarkable chapter in American journalism. The Monitor, which celebrates its 100th anniversary on Nov. 25, was launched at the direction of church founder Eddy, who had been the subject of a searing legal and journalistic attack by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. Officials of her church had a professional news organization up and running in just over 100 days.
In the Monitor’s first edition, Mrs. Eddy defined the scope and tone of the newspaper’s journalistic mission, writing that it should “injure no man, but bless all mankind.”
Since that time, generations of editorial and publishing workers have devoted themselves to the Monitor. While Mrs. Eddy’s paper was initially greeted with skepticism, the Monitor won respect from its journalistic peers; it has been awarded seven Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other journalistic accolades. Three Monitor editors have been elected president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.
Monitor editor John Yemma said that while the methods of publishing Monitor journalism have evolved over 100 years, the underlying motives and approach remain constant.
“In the Monitor’s next century, as with its first century, it is committed to finding answers to the world’s most important problems, asking the questions that matter and getting the story behind the news – all of which is staying true to Mrs. Eddy’s unselfish, original vision,” he said. “The Monitor’s role is right there in its name. It’s to monitor the world, to keep an eye on the world from a perspective of hope.”
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