The Christian Science Monitor
The cover of The Christian Science Monitor for April 26, 2009
|Owner(s)||Christian Science Publishing Society|
|Headquarters||210 Massachusetts Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115
The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is an international news organization that delivers global coverage via its website, weekly magazine, daily news briefing, email newsletters, Amazon Kindle subscription, and mobile site. It was started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. As of 2011, the print circulation was 75,052.
The CSM is a newspaper that covers international and United States current events. The paper includes a daily religious feature on "The Home Forum" page, but states the publication is not a platform for evangelizing.
On October 28, 2008, Editor John Yemma announced that the Monitor would discontinue its daily print version to focus on web-based publishing. Instead of a daily print edition, CSM would publish a weekly news magazine with an international focus.
Concept and inception
Despite its name, the Monitor does not claim to be a religious-themed paper, and says it does not promote the doctrine of its patron church. However, at its founder Eddy's request, a daily religious article has appeared in every issue of the Monitor. Eddy also required the inclusion of "Christian Science" in the paper's name, over initial opposition by some of her advisors who thought the religious reference might repel a secular audience.
The Monitor's inception was, in part, a response by Eddy to the journalism of her day, which relentlessly covered the sensations and scandals surrounding her new religion with varying degrees of accuracy. In addition, Joseph Pulitzer's New York World was consistently critical of Eddy, and this, along with a derogatory article in McClure's, furthered Eddy's decision to found her own media outlet.
Eddy declared that the Monitor's mission should be "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
The Monitor was for several decades published in broadsheet form but in 1975 switched to tabloid format. The paper's overall circulation has ranged widely, from a peak of over 223,000 in 1970, to just under 56,000 shortly before the suspension of the daily print edition in 2009. Partially in response to declining circulation and the struggle to earn a profit, the church's directors and the manager of the Christian Science Publishing Society were purportedly forced to plan cutbacks and closures (later denied), which led in 1989 to the mass protest resignations by its chief editor Kay Fanning (an ASNE president and former editor of the Anchorage Daily News), managing editor David Anable, associate editor David Winder, and several other newsroom staff. These developments also presaged administrative moves to scale back the print newspaper in favor of expansions into radio, a magazine, shortwave broadcasting, and television. Expenses, however, rapidly outpaced revenues, contradicting predictions by church directors. On the brink of bankruptcy, the board was forced to close the broadcast programs in 1992.
The paper has been known for avoiding sensationalism, producing a "distinctive brand of nonhysterical journalism". In 1997, the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, a publication critical of United States policy in the Middle East, praised the Monitor for its objective and informative coverage of Islam and the Middle East.
Monitor staff have been the recipients of seven Pulitzer Prizes, the most recent in 2002.
- 1950, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting: Edmund Stevens, for his series of 43 articles written over a three-year residence in Moscow entitled, "This Is Russia Uncensored."
- 1967, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting: R. John Hughes, For his thorough reporting of Indonesia's attempted Transition to the New Order in 1965 and the purge that followed in 1965–66.
- 1968, Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting: Howard James, for his series of articles, Crisis in the Courts.
- 1969, Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting: Robert Cahn, for his inquiry into the future of our national parks and the methods that may help to preserve them.
- 1978, Pulitzer Prize Special Citations and Awards, Journalism: Richard Strout, for distinguished commentary from Washington over many years as staff correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor and contributor to The New Republic.
- 1996, Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting: David Rohde, for his persistent on-site reporting of the slaughter of thousands of Bosnian Muslims in the Srebrenica Genocide.
- 2002, Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Cartooning: Clay Bennett
In April 2003, after being provided documents by a former Iraqi General, several news organizations (including the Monitor) reported that George Galloway was accused by a U.S. Senate Committee led by Norm Coleman of personally profiting from corruption within the United Nations Oil-for-Food program. The Monitor investigated the matter, concluding that the documents were "almost certainly forgeries," and, in response to a lawsuit by Galloway, apologized in court.
In 2006, Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Monitor, was kidnapped in Baghdad, and released safely after 82 days. Although Carroll was initially a freelancer, the paper worked tirelessly for her release, even hiring her as a staff writer shortly after her abduction to ensure that she had financial benefits, according to Bergenheim. Beginning in August 2006, the Monitor published an account of Carroll's kidnapping and subsequent release, with first-person reporting from Carroll and others involved.
The print edition continued to struggle for readership, and, in 2004, faced a renewed mandate from the church to earn a profit. Subsequently, the Monitor began relying more on the Internet as an integral part of its business model. The Monitor was one of the first newspapers to put its text online in 1996, and was also one of the first to launch a PDF edition in 2001. It was also an early pioneer of RSS feeds.
In 2005, Richard Bergenheim, a Christian Science practitioner, was named the new editor. Shortly before his death in 2008, Bergenheim was replaced by a veteran Boston Globe editor and former Monitor reporter John Yemma.
In October 2008, citing losses of $US18.9 million per year versus $US12.5 million in annual revenue, the Monitor announced that it would cease printing daily and instead print weekly editions starting in April 2009. The last daily print edition was published on March 27, 2009. The Monitor continues to offer daily news online on its website and via email. Yemma stated that the move to go digital was made because they recognized that CSM's reach would be greater online than in print. He has also stated that in the next five years the CSM would work to increase their online readership fivefold, from 5 million page-views to 25 million.
As the paper has turned its attention to online storytelling, it has been breaking ground with multimedia projects like "Little Bill Clinton", a narrative serial following a year in the life of a young refugee.
The weekly magazine follows on from the Monitor's London edition, also a weekly, launched in 1960 and the weekly World Edition which replaced the London edition in 1974.
Radio and television
MonitoRadio was a radio service produced by the Church of Christ, Scientist between 1984 and 1997. It featured several one-hour news broadcasts a day, as well as top of the hour news bulletins. The service was widely heard on public radio stations throughout the United States. The Monitor later launched an international broadcast over shortwave radio, called the World Service of the Christian Science Monitor. Weekdays were news-led, but weekend schedules were exclusively dedicated to religious programming. That service ceased operations on June 28, 1997.
In 1986, the Monitor started producing a current affairs television series, The Christian Science Monitor Reports, which was distributed via syndication to television stations across the United States. In 1988, the Christian Science Monitor Reports won a Peabody Award for a series of reports on Islamic fundamentalism. That same year, the program was canceled and the Monitor created a daily television program, World Monitor, anchored by former NBC correspondent John Hart, which was initially shown on the Discovery Channel. In 1991, World Monitor moved to the Monitor Channel, a 24-hour news and information channel. The only religious programming on the channel was a five-minute Christian Science program early each morning. In 1992, after eleven months on the air, the service was shut down amid huge financial losses.
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- Christian Science Monitor Going Mostly Online: PJNet.org video interview with editor John Yemma, November 17, 2008