The family album we are publishing today shows the faces of The Christian Science Monitor - the people whose labors create each day's paper and bring it to your door or your computer screen. As the millenniums shift, we'd like to share with you a bit of what this team has done this year, and a bit of what they expect to do in 2001.
First, the setting: The staff photo was taken in the shell of the old Monitor newsroom, on the second floor of the Christian Science Publishing House in Boston. The hard hats signal the construction going on even as the photographer's strobes flashed.
In February, after three years in temporary quarters, the Editorial and Publishing staffs are scheduled to return to the Publishing House. The renovation - part of a $55-million Restoration & Renewal project at the Christian Science Plaza - will provide up-to-date communications, more team-friendly working arrangements, and suitable space to receive dignitaries and newsmakers.
Now, the year: During 12 months that stretched from the fizzle of Y2K to the unprecedented struggle to elect a new president, Monitor coverage steadily earned its way to greater public prominence as the news staff strove to be innovative and insightful.
A few of the many highlights: a major investigation of Indonesia's deadly Battalion 745, some sweeping reviews of the past millennium ("A Thousand Years of ..."), a penetrating profile of a high school a year after the Columbine shootings ("The Heart of a High School"), a provocative examination of math education ("Math Meltdown"), extensive campaign coverage including convention commentary by a former US poet laureate and crisp day-by-day analysis after the election, and on-the-scene coverage from Belgrade of the fall of Slobodan Milosevic.
This excellent work was noticed. Monitor reporters and editors were in high demand as guest commentators on television and radio news programs, making more than 330 appearances.
Mentions of the Monitor and its news coverage multiplied. The leading news magazines cited Monitor articles, network anchors read Monitor headlines on the air, media trade journals highlighted innovative Monitor coverage, and major Web sites - most notably Yahoo! - often linked to Monitor stories in their news sections.
One result of this increased visibility was a huge surge in traffic to the Monitor's Web site - www.csmonitor.com - in the second half of the year. Visitor counts rose steadily, setting a new high in November when 626,000 people came to the site - a whopping 58 percent gain over the previous November. Those visitors viewed 5.1 million pages of Monitor content and e-mailed 12,505 Monitor articles to their friends. Among the visitors, 75 percent were newcomers - people whose visit was their first in at least a year. During 2000, several million readers saw the Monitor for the first time online, a huge accomplishment. And, while print circulation remains modest, the Web site will bring in about 2,500 new print subscribers this year.
Other accomplishments were significant, too. In January, the Monitor staff launched MonitorWeek - a news weekly sold to local newspapers for distribution as an insert. This 12-page section features some of the Monitor's best national and international news, features, and editorials, and it currently reaches 118,000 households each week.
Pages from MonitorWeek also provided the nucleus for the November launch of MonitorWorld, The Christian Science Monitor's international weekly edition.
To improve delivery, a third printing plant was opened in the Chicago area, and the Western print site moved from Phoenix to the San Francisco area. A new half-million-dollar customer-service computer system was installed, and last week customer-service operations began a shift from Iowa back to Boston.
Beginning Jan. 2, the Monitor's own staff will be handling subscription and delivery calls, and labels for the papers will be generated by the newly installed computer system. The goal of these changes is better service, but it's possible some subscribers may face minor disruptions during the transition. We ask for your patience. Please call our customer-service staff at 800-456-2200 to report problems.
This transition will clear the way for the introduction of morning doorstep delivery in major cities around the country. Our goal is to launch hand delivery in parts of one or two cities each month - as many as 10 or 12 cities in 2001. And, if all goes well, the program will continue the following year.
For 2001, then, our outlook calls for more visibility, more growth in new readership, better customer service, more home delivery, and more of the distinctive reporting and editing that makes the Monitor unique in all the world. We thank you for being a member of the Monitor family.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society