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What the Monitor Strives to Do For Readers

November 25, 1998

Ninety years ago today, the first issue of The Christian Science Monitor came thundering off brand new presses in the basement of a building at 107 Falmouth Street in Boston.

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Just over 100 days earlier, Mary Baker Eddy told startled officers of her church to "start a daily newspaper and do it at once."

On the overcast day when the 12-page first edition was delivered to her home just outside Boston, Mrs. Eddy said, "This in truth is the lightest of all days, this is the day our daily newspaper goes forth to lighten mankind." So began the remarkable journalistic saga we commemorate with this anniversary edition.

Today, when the newspaper business is struggling to hold readers and ward off a tide of sleaze, the Monitor's continuing mandate to lighten - to shed light upon, to relieve cares or woes - sets forth values unique in the world of journalism.

To mark the paper's 90th anniversary, we are presenting a variety of perspectives on what Earl Foell's page 1 story calls the "triumphant and tragic course" of the 20th century. We also are delighted to share a small sampling of the best work from our past.

Sifting through the century and this paper's role in it triggers an immense appreciation for the talent and selfless dedication of Monitor employees who went before us. We are equally grateful for the staunch support of loyal subscribers - including some who have been on the rolls continuously for more than 50 years - who have stood by Mrs. Eddy's beloved paper through sunshine and storm.

While grateful for the Monitor's past, we are focused on its future. In this space, we want to share something of our vision of the role we want the Monitor to play in readers' lives. Our relationship with readers is based on shared goals or values.

News organizations are driven by the values they bring to the decision of what is important in the world and how reporters should cover it. The Monitor's distinct voice is a direct result of the powerful mandates set forth for Monitor journalism by Mrs. Eddy.

In her lead editorial reprinted above, Mrs. Eddy set the Monitor on a path of unselfish public service through journalism. That is a major part of what the paper's founder meant when she said the Monitor should, "injure no man but ... bless all mankind."

Another value we cherish is journalism that exhibits - spreads - the finest qualities. Mrs. Eddy wanted Monitor journalism to be characterized by qualities such as justice, mercy, fairness, and purity. To her, they were laws of God the paper was "to spread undivided."

No denomination owns justice, mercy, fairness, and purity. They have universal appeal. So from its first issue, the Monitor has drawn readers from all religious and economic backgrounds who respond to the nature of our journalism. In a recent focus group, for example, a medical doctor told us his local paper contained more news of violence and sex than he thought was healthy for his children. So he subscribed to the Monitor and stopping taking his local paper.