FaithWorld

Christian Science Monitor to shut down daily print edition

October 29, 2008

For the past 30 years or more, I have unintentionally been disappointing Christian Scientists on a regular basis. Whenever I was in the United States and came across a Christian Science Reading Room, I walked in and asked for the latest copy of the Christian Science Monitor. Behind the desk was usually a kindly older man or woman, probably a retired volunteer, and they seemed happy to see a young (and then not so young) person dropping by. They seemed even more pleased when I also took copies from the day before or the day before that. They often asked how I knew the paper and I’d say I used to subscribe when I was a grad student in Boston. With a kindly smile, they would then inquire if I was a Christian Scientist or wanted to learn more about Christian Science. I would say no, thank you very much, and leave.

I thought about these people today when I heard that the Christian Science Monitor will scrap its daily print run for web-only edition in April 2009 (plus a weekly in print). It’s been struggling for a while and circulation has fallen from the levels back in the early ’70s when I read it daily. But it continued to publish high-quality journalism and I enjoyed picking up a copy or two whenever I came across it.

For a church-related publication, the Monitor was curious in that it did not promote its own faith in its pages (apart, perhaps, from its lack of obituaries). There was just one daily religious feature on the Home Forum page, towards the back of the paper. Otherwise, it focused on serious analytical reporting of national and international news, especially foreign stories that mainstream American newspapers were not good at covering. It was a must-read for anyone interested in world affairs.

Even if there wasn’t much overtly religious about the Monitor, it did have an ethical dimension that shaped its character. It was launched in 1908 as a reply to the yellow journalism of the day and the church’s founder Mary Baker Eddy said it was “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” It avoided sensationalism and spin and could take a day or two before writing about an event. This was a breath of fresh air even before 24/7 television news came our way.

So the end of the print daily may make readers a bit nostalgic (like WNYC’s John Hockenberry – listen here), but there’s a little silver lining for me and probably many other occasional readers over the years. We won’t have to disappoint those friendly people at the reading rooms anymore.

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

While I was not a reader of the CSM, I must admit that I read most newspapers online myself. Sign of the times… Yet, I find it sad that the glory days of the printed newspaper are clearly history – some of the biggest dailies are struggling seriously. Soon we will carry our ‘Kindle’ to the coffeehouse. Not quite the same…

 

Before becoming interested in Christian Science, in high school, my history teacher had the class buy copies of “The Christian Science Monitor” newspaper for its fair coverage of both sides of an issue about current events.

I liked those two words put together “Christian Science.” An interest in high school and now is to find ways to build bridges between science and religion. I got involved in Christian Science.

Over the years I have given away many gift subscriptions of the “Monitor” to interested people and friends. It has shocked me greatly that none of those to whom I gave a gift of the newspaper ever resubscribed. I have concluded that when people say they are looking for a “fair and balanced” newspaper, they don’t mean it. They really want a newspaper or radio or television show that goes along with how they feel. Even if they say differently, people want a news source that has a point of view.

Over the decades many Islamic countries have felt that “The Christian Science Monitor” was the most fair American newspaper. Diplomats, educators, and historians seem to be the ones who seriously read the “Monitor,” not the public.

 

One of the partners chosen by the Monitor to help implement this on-line edition has this post on its company blog today regarding the project
http://blog.duoconsulting.com/

Posted by dianew | Report as abusive
 

Post Your Comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/