Monitor shifts from print to Web-based strategy
In 2009, the Monitor will become the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website; the 100 year-old news organization will also offer subscribers weekly print and daily e-mail editions.
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"In the Monitor's next century, as with its first century, it is committed to finding answers to the world's most important problems, asking the questions that matter and getting the story behind the news - all of which is staying true to Mrs. Eddy's unselfish, original vision," he said. "The Monitor's role is right there in its name. It's to monitor the world, to keep an eye on the world from a perspective of hope."Skip to next paragraph
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Mrs. Wolff cited three goals that drove what she called "our evolving strategy" for the Monitor:
• Producing a website that can be updated 24/7 and delivered instantaneously "better fulfills Mrs. Eddy's original vision" for the Monitor to be daily than does a five-day-a-week paper delivered by mail with frequent delays.
• Focusing resources on the fast-growing Web audience for news rather than on the economically troubled daily newspaper industry "increases the Monitor's reach and impact." The Monitor's website currently attracts about 1.5 million visitors a month.
• Eliminating the major production and distribution costs of a daily newspaper will allow the Monitor to "make progress toward achieving financial sustainability" while supporting its global news resources.
Attaining these goals over the next five years would provide stability and continuity for Monitor journalism over the long run, said Mr. Yemma, who took office as the Monitor's editor in July after holding a number of editorial positions at the Boston Globe. Throughout the news industry, he added, publications are struggling with the profound disruption brought on by the Internet and the rising costs of newsprint and transportation.
The Monitor has required a subsidy from the Christian Science church for most of its history. In the current budget year ending April 30, the Monitor in all forms is forecast to lose $18.9 million. The church will provide a subsidy of $12.1 million from its general fund, with earnings from the Monitor Endowment Fund and donor contributions to the Monitor's operating fund covering the balance. The changes in strategy are projected gradually to decrease the Monitor's net operating loss to $10.5 million in 2013, so the church general fund subsidy will be $3.7 million, said managing publisher Jonathan Wells.
"Changes in the industry - changes in the concept of news and the economics underlying the industry - hit the Monitor first," given its relatively small size and the complex logistics required for national distribution, Mr. Wells said. "We are sometimes forced to be an early change agent."
All three Monitor publications – website, weekly print edition, and daily e-mail edition – will be produced by the same editorial staff. The Monitor will continue to operate at its current level of international and domestic coverage, with bureaus throughout the globe, and a strong presence in Washington. Yemma and Wells said these bureaus represent a distinct competitive advantage for the Monitor at a time when other news organizations are cutting back on staff coverage from outside their circulation regions.
"A modest reduction" in the Monitor's 95-person editorial staff is likely, once the transition to the new product line-up is completed, Yemma said.