John Yemma named Monitor editor

After 20 years serving in senior editing posts at the Boston Globe, Yemma is rejoining the Monitor staff in mid-July.

By , Staff Writer

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    Editor designate John Yemma shook hands with International Editor David Scott in the Christian Science Monitor's newsroom on Monday.
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    John Yemma was named editor of The Christian Science Monitor Monday, succeeding Richard Bergenheim who was named editor at large.
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John Yemma was named editor of The Christian Science Monitor Monday, succeeding Richard Bergenheim who was named editor at large.

Mr. Yemma is rejoining the Monitor in mid-July after 20 years at the Boston Globe, most recently as deputy managing editor for multimedia. Mr. Bergenheim, in his new role, will focus on strengthening the Monitor's base of support among readers and potential subscribers.

The new appointments were announced Monday at a newsroom staff meeting by Mary Trammell, editor in chief of The Christian Science Publishing Society and a member of The Christian Science Board of Directors.

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"We are delighted a journalist of John Yemma's professional stature and multi-media experience is returning to help launch the Monitor into its second century," Mrs. Trammell said. In November, the Monitor will mark 100 years of continuous publication.

"At the same time, Richard's profound understanding of the Monitor's mission and his sterling example of unselfish service make him uniquely qualified to rally support for the Monitor and our other publications among church members and friends at a time when that support is greatly needed," Trammell said.

Yemma responded by noting that, "The Monitor has been a beacon of smart, thoughtful journalism for the past 100 years. I am honored to have been chosen as the editor who will take it into its second century."

"I applaud John's selection as editor," Bergenheim said. "He's an accomplished journalist who believes deeply in the Monitor's ideals and in its future."

Judy Wolff, chair of the Publishing Society's three-person Board of Trustees saluted Bergenheim and then added, "John's impressively varied experience will be an enormous help in the Monitor's multiplatform future. The Trustees are delighted to have him on board."

The new editor brings a wide range of experience to the post. From 1979 to 1989 he served the Monitor as a Washington correspondent, as Middle East correspondent, and as business editor. At the Globe, he held various positions including foreign editor and Sunday editor. Yemma has also worked for the Dallas Morning News and United Press International.

For the past 2-1/2 years, the Monitor's new editor has overseen editorial operations of the Globe's ambitious Boston.com Internet site and has led efforts to transform the newsroom from print to multi-media. That experience will be crucial in his new job. The Monitor's website, csmonitor.com, is seen as a key component of the Monitor's daily journalism in a digital information era.

The Monitor also is exploring potential new print products. Jonathan Wells, the Monitor's managing publisher, was quoted recently in the Boston Globe as saying the organization is considering a "weekly product." "Like most newspapers we are actively investigating a range of formats and frequency in response to our readers' needs, rising operating costs, and changing technology," Wells said. He stressed that "no decisions have been made."

Yemma addressed journalism industry upheaval. "Every news organization is changing," he said. "The important thing is not how news is delivered but that it reaches people where they are. Every editor's mission must be the preservation of thoughtful, truthful journalism, which is essential to the thriving of a free society and a healthy planet."

While formats and delivery methods may change, Yemma reaffirmed the Monitor's commitment to unselfish service through daily journalism, a mission set forth by Mary Baker Eddy when she launched her newspaper in November 1908.

Mrs. Eddy "founded the Monitor during the era of 'yellow journalism,' when objectivity, accuracy, and fairness were in short supply. Now, at a time when news organizations are struggling to establish a sustainable economic base, the Monitor's role is more crucial than ever in providing careful reporting, compassionate analysis, and a clear-eyed view of the world," he said.

In announcing the changes in Monitor management, Trammell lauded outgoing editor Bergenheim. "It would be hard to overestimate Richard's contribution as editor over the past three years," Trammell said. She noted his "spiritual poise and tireless vigilance" in 2006 when Monitor correspondent Jill Carroll was kidnapped in Baghdad and held as a hostage until her release 82 days later. During Bergenheim's tour the Monitor also installed a new production system and significantly expanded the content of csmonitor.com

Last week, Bergenheim was named President of The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The church position carries a one-year term. In his new role, Bergenheim plans to travel widely, meeting with Christian Science teachers, practitioners, and church members in several countries, in support of the Monitor, as well as the other church periodicals. From 1988 to 1994, Bergenheim was a member of The Christian Science Board of Directors. He is a long time practitioner and teacher of Christian Science healing.

The Monitor's new editor is a 1974 graduate of the University of Texas and has been honored repeatedly by his journalistic peers. In 1999, Yemma and Globe reporter Daniel Golden teamed up to win a Headliner's Award for their critical examination of Harvard University. Yemma was editor of the 1999 Polk Award-winning Globe series on abuse of mental patients by medical researchers. In 1994 he was a Reuter fellow at Oxford University. During 2008, he has been a Sulzberger fellow at Columbia University.

"Journalism should reflect the variety of life – not just the deep and troubling problems but also the triumphs and breakthroughs," Yemma said.

He is married to Robin Jareaux and lives on Boston's South Shore.

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