At least they still have the Mapparium
October 28, 2008 12:48 PM   Subscribe

Newsfilter: "After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday." posted by Horace Rumpole (35 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
This is weird news. I think it's good because the Monitor's reporting is solid, but it was never a money maker. Part of the reason it has survived at all is because of the charity of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
posted by parmanparman at 12:54 PM on October 28, 2008

Damn. For years Mom mom has always wanted a subscription to this paper, but what with raising a family and all, my parents have never been able to justify it in their budget. Once I graduated college and started working, I thought a year's subscription would have been a wonderful Christmas gift for her but I never got around to it.

At least this year I have an excuse.
posted by Science! at 12:55 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

It's a rough place out there for print journalism.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:10 PM on October 28, 2008

Outside my window, trees are clapping.
posted by grounded at 1:11 PM on October 28, 2008

A solid paper. Sad to see it go.
posted by alexei at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2008

One of my former roomates sublet his room one summer to a CSM intern. Dude bailed halfway through the summer and stiffed us on rent.

I remember they had a radio program on the NPR station in the mornings. Whatever happened to that?
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 1:12 PM on October 28, 2008

And I signed up for Friday deliveries last Thursday. Timely.
posted by IndpMed at 1:21 PM on October 28, 2008

And I signed up for Friday deliveries last Thursday. Timely.

Straw. Camel. Back.
posted by mandal at 1:27 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

Outside my window, trees are clapping.

"and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands" - Isaiah 55: 12
posted by weston at 1:29 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Huh, apparently Clay Bennett left them. Too bad - I generally like their articles and I love him.
posted by Lemurrhea at 1:38 PM on October 28, 2008

From HuffPo:

The Monitor's circulation has fallen from a peak of 223,000 in 1970 to about 50,000 now, while its online traffic has soared. The newspaper gets about 5 million page-views per month, compared with about 4 million five years ago and 1 million a decade ago.

There's a paradox for you. Or perhaps, a call to change the model. Like my trees, I applaud this decision and hope to see more good reporting from them.
posted by grounded at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2008

Hopefully, they can keep up the awesome coverage… Maybe even expand it.
posted by klangklangston at 1:40 PM on October 28, 2008

As others have said, hopefully they can keep up the good coverage. Though the talk of a "modest reduction" in the paper's staff seems ominous.

I've always been amazed that the paper's close ties with the Church of Christ, Scientist don't tilt its coverage more. The Washington Times is not only a vastly worse paper, but is often nakedly the publicity arm of the Unification Church. I'm currently guessing both that the Christian Scientists are more honorable than the True Father and his minions, and the fact that the CSM is more open about who owns it makes it less willing to be a blunt instrument of propaganda.

I hope they can keep going, 'cuz right now the CSM is one of the very few American news sources that's worth reading. And that's coming from a militant atheist.
posted by sotonohito at 1:56 PM on October 28, 2008 [2 favorites]

This made me realize that even though I've been reading the CSM online for a while, I don't know if I've ever seen the print version. Not that I was ever on the lookout for it, but I don't remember ever noticing it in Borders or B&N or in indie bookstores.
posted by Kronoss at 2:06 PM on October 28, 2008

This is bad news. No two ways about it. Please subscribe to your local paper. Or any paper.
posted by MarshallPoe at 2:25 PM on October 28, 2008

Newspaper Deathwatch. This really should be a FPP along with some really terrible links about how the NYT is on the verge of insolvency, etc.. I don't think most people realize how close so many major print papers are to folding. Sad news about CSM, but I think it is just one of many in the next few years unless things change dramatically.
posted by stbalbach at 2:38 PM on October 28, 2008

This is what happens when you pray for a business's success without actually dealing with what is physically necessary to cure it.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2008 [3 favorites]

Deathspiral Accelerates:
Into the perfect storm of Internet competition, spiraling newsprint costs and the decline of classified advertising has come a fourth factor: probable worldwide recession. It couldn’t happen at a worse time for the beleaguered newspaper industry.</blockquote
posted by stbalbach at 2:40 PM on October 28, 2008

We got the CSM during the Detroit Newspaper Strike. Amazingly good paper. I didn't mind the one column of religious stuff because they kept it out of all the other articles. That is the proper way to do religion, if you must do it publically (I am religious, but that is none of your business).

I hope they can make a clean transition to the web and keep up the quality.
posted by QIbHom at 2:41 PM on October 28, 2008

I don't read the CSM regularly, but this makes me sad because it makes me remember the Christian Science Reading Room located in my old home town -- I bet those are all gone too, like neighborhood grocery stores and local, non-frou-frou storefront businesses.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:43 PM on October 28, 2008


Say what you will about the religion it's affiliated with, Sticherbeast, but making fun of the Monitor is a pretty good way to look like an idiot.
posted by roll truck roll at 2:56 PM on October 28, 2008

This may turn out to be very good news. If the Monitor survives as a web-only publication, it will mean it's possible to support 'traditional' journalism without the expense of printing.
posted by wendell at 3:03 PM on October 28, 2008

Aw. I remember when I noticed the Monitor's motto on the masthead for the first time:

"First the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear."

Not being familiar with the King James at that time in my life, I found this profoundly weird. The rhythm brought to mind a sinister dwarves' chant, the words an invocation of what might be a vicious means of assassination or, y'know, a wet willie. But it definitely had the sound of plotting.

(It's actually from the Gospel of Mark; cf. the parable of the sower. Am I wicked for continuing to use it as a threat?)
posted by aws17576 at 3:38 PM on October 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

If a tree claps in the forest with only one hand, but no one is there, does it make a sound?

*sorry to blow your minds*
posted by found missing at 3:40 PM on October 28, 2008

Subscribers will still get a weekly print edition, the dailies will come in email.
posted by Roman Graves at 4:14 PM on October 28, 2008

Yeah, to be fair, the only places that I've seen the print edition are in the Christian Science reading room in my hometown, and at two of the magazines where I've worked.
posted by klangklangston at 4:34 PM on October 28, 2008

posted by honest knave at 4:37 PM on October 28, 2008

posted by lester at 4:45 PM on October 28, 2008

Outside my window, trees are clapping.

The dying scrap salvagers on the other side of the world, however, are not.
posted by msbrauer at 4:46 PM on October 28, 2008

Hopefully, they can keep up the awesome coverage… Maybe even expand it.
posted by klangklangston at 4:40 PM on October 28 [+] [!]

The problem with shifting to an online operation is that online ad revenue is nowhere near--I mean other-side-of-the-universe-nowhere near--what the newspaper can make from print. Despite what you read, many newspapers still make tons of money. The problem is that many are owned by companies wanting better profit margins, higher margins than many other industries have traditionally demanded; others are locked into various longterm expenses or business decisions that make improving profits nearly impossible, given the rise of the internet. In the mid-1990s, lots of papers rushed into giving away all their work for free online and now there's no going back. People are not going to pay ro read the news when there are so many ways of getting it free.

Many other papers simply couldn't or wouldn't adjust to figure out ways to sell or market their services to bring in more income. And far too many are led by people like those at the Tribune Co., who are writing insane memos to their staff while proclaiming their shock at learning that newspapers actually have reporters in other cities and countries.

There are a lot of things wrong with how newspapers operate these days but I really worry about the day that there is no one to keep an eye on government, local or national. We can think the bloggers can do it and a handful will, but many bloggers draw on the reporting of newspapers. If they completely fail, I don't know who's going to replace them.

Here's an example, and no, I don't work there--The New York Times recently reported on some outrageous disability claims by workers retiring from a local commuter railroad, with something like 94 percent of them claiming and winning disability payments, magically discovering disabilities after they turned in their retirement papers. This is costing taxpayers millions.

The railroad had known for years there was something wrong but inertia kept everyone from doing anything. Thanks to the Times, there are now hearings, the state AG is investigating and there's evidence that a number of rail managers, doctors, inspectors, etc., let this go on--one even was taking payments to provide doctor-shopping help--and people will probably go to jail.

This kind of journalism work takes much time and money to do.

I've written way too much on this topic but my heart is with journalism. And good journalism often takes a lot of money. And the internet can't, at least at this point, provide that income.
posted by etaoin at 6:28 PM on October 28, 2008 [5 favorites]

Today, the CSM. Tomorrow, The New York Times.
posted by zardoz at 12:18 AM on October 29, 2008

Damn. I always thought they were the most neutral paper in existence- I always appreciated the articles, thought they were telling it as it was, with if anything a slight left bias. But then I'd read their editorials and wonder how such a right-leaning paper could have such articles.

When I worked my college's library, I'd always steal 5-10 minutes during stacking periodicals to read a little bit of the CSM. I predict that they're eventually going to go to a weekly format only. Which is sad.
posted by Hactar at 7:22 AM on October 29, 2008

I once subscribed to the print edition of CSM and almost never read it. For the past couple of years I've subscribed to CSM RSS feeds and read it all the time. So if I'm a typical person, this plan makes a lot of sense. Still very surprising to see any newspaper take the plunge.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:29 AM on October 29, 2008

Damn. I read the CSM online off and on, but my attention wanders, and subscriber lock-in is nil. In retrospect, I guess loyal print subscribers were subsidizing my access.
posted by anirvan at 11:48 AM on November 1, 2008

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