After a century of publishing, The Christian Science Monitor is slowing the presses. The paper is moving from a daily print format to a daily online edition that updates around the clock. The paper will maintain a weekly print edition.
The new model will launch in April 2009 at CSMonitor.com with original reporting seven days a week. The paper will also produce a daily electronic subscription product. And the weekly print publication will look behind the headlines to help readers understand global issues.
In its 100-year history, the Monitor has earned seven Pulitzer Prizes and hundreds of other awards. With 18 bureaus worldwide, the Monitor aims to cover both major news events and stories from every corner of the globe. The Monitor first went online in 1996.
"Like much of the news industry, the Monitor has embraced online reporting and is now one of the first publications to treat its Web site as its primary publishing format," said John Yemma, editor of the Monitor. "The Christian Science Monitor recognizes that daily print has become too costly and energy-intensive. Online journalism is more timely and is rapidly expanding its reach, especially among younger readers."
Fully Embracing the Internet
With its paradigm shift, the Monitor becomes the first major international newspaper to fully embrace the Internet as the future of journalism. The Monitor expects its publish-news-as-it-happens model to span the globe with original reporting and spur global conversations between readers and Monitor staff.
The weekly print edition intends to stay true to the Monitor's reputation for thoughtful, in-depth coverage of global issues, including analysis of U.S. and global news, weekly snapshots of life around the globe and news around the Web, profiles of people who are tackling tough problems and trying to make a difference, and special emphasis on the environment, innovation, money and values.
"There's still a role for print, but one that is geared to weekends, when people still can find time to catch up, look behind the headlines, and experience the pleasures of print," Yemma said. "Our shift to a Web-first, multiplatform strategy is likely to be watched by others in the news industry as they contemplate similar moves."
Adding Exclusive Subscription Content
As part of its multiplatform format, the Monitor is also launching a new daily e-news edition delivered via e-mail. The two- to three-page subscription product will include an original column from the editors, a selection of the most important Monitor stories of the day, and links to other Monitor stories.
Managing Publisher Jonathan Wells added that the move to a Web-first format enables the Monitor to more effectively reach a global audience, and he emphasized the combined value of the Monitor's Web edition and its new weekly print publication.
"We have a base of print readers that we can continue to serve by providing longer-format journalism on a weekly basis," Wells said. "Ad revenues from our Web site and circulation revenue from our print and e-news editions will form the basis of our business model as the Monitor enters its second century."
The Wave of the Future
The digital-media movement is clearly part of the Monitor's decision-making process, but other factors may also be bearing on the century-old paper, according to Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media.
"In the 20th century, the Monitor established an excellent reputation. But many of its subscribers are members of the Christian Science church, which has had a decline in membership," Leigh said. "It's also important to recognize that since many of its subscribers are members, the primary method of delivery is the postal service. That's an expensive distribution model."
The Monitor aside, Leigh is betting on a continued decline in print journalism. While newspapers and magazines may never completely vanish, he said, the percentage of news consumed online continues to rise even as offline consumption decreases.
"Part of how quickly print will decline will be determined by how innovative companies are in developing offline reading devices such as the Amazon Kindle and the iPhone," Leigh said. "Twenty years from now people will probably look at the Amazon Kindle and the iPhone as prototypes of how we read news."