Monitor Developing an Electronic Edition to Extend Reach

THE Christian Science Monitor is developing an electronic edition of the newspaper. The new edition is intended to extend the reach and audience of the daily print paper.

Set to go on line in 1996, the electronic edition will require users to have access to personal computers. The electronic Monitor will have its own site on the Internet's World Wide Web.

"Exploring the possibilities of on-line [electronic] publishing is an essential step in making sure our periodicals are kept abreast of the times," says J. Anthony Periton, editor in chief of the Christian Science Publishing Society. More than 500 on-line services are in operation or under development by newspapers worldwide, according to Editor and Publisher magazine.

"The Christian Science Monitor electronic edition will perform a unique function by providing in one location, to a wide audience and at a very economical cost, the benefits of both high-quality print journalism and radio," Mr. Periton says.

The Web is a medium that allows the reader to receive text, graphics, and sound through a personal computer.

The electronic Monitor will contain stories and graphics from the newspaper as well as reports from Monitor Radio, which can be heard by those whose computers have readily available software.

"We believe the World Wide Web portion of the Internet is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the Monitor and thus boost circulation among millions of individuals who do not now see the paper," says David Cook, the Monitor's editor. "An electronic edition could quickly reach readers in remote areas who are not well served by current mail delivery methods and allow those who live outside the US to see the daily edition of the paper on a much more timely basis," Mr. Cook says.

Anne Collier, a former Monitor correspondent and editor, will rejoin the paper as editor of the on-line edition. She will report to John Dillin, managing editor of the paper. Mrs. Collier has been new media development director at Cadmus Custom Publishing Company in Boston.

The Monitor also named Tom Regan as production manager for the on-line team. Mr. Regan, a former Nieman Fellow, was previously an editor and columnist at the Halifax Daily News and launched that paper's electronic edition, "Daily News Worldwide." It was the first electronic edition of a Canadian newspaper.

Cook says fewer than a half dozen staff members will be added for the electronic edition. "The on-line version will draw on the staff and the editorial strengths of this newspaper," he says. "We are proceeding in a careful and economical fashion."

"While the content of the on-line Monitor will be developed by the same staff that produces the newspaper, we expect the direct costs of this version to be covered in due course by advertising and subscription revenue," says Miles Harbur, the Publishing Society's chief operating officer. "Like many others in our industry, we believe the costs of on line publishing represent a relatively small extension of total costs." Subscription and advertising rates have not yet been set, he says.

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