``A nightly look at civilization.'' That's how John H. Hoagland Jr. describes the program to be premi`ered Monday by The Christian Science Monitor on the Discovery Channel, a cable system. It will air Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. Eastern time, 6 p.m. Central, and 10 p.m. Pacific beginning Sept. 12.
As manager of the Christian Science Publishing Society - which publishes the Monitor - Mr. Hoagland has been leading the team that has been preparing the debut of ``World Monitor, a Television Presentation of The Christian Science Monitor.''
``We're trying to provide a context for world events,'' he explains. That's no small task. And the latest member of the team to join in the new endeavor here at ``World Monitor'' headquarters is a veteran of TV news production whose credits include many years as Walter Cronkite's executive producer - Sanford Socolow. Mr. Socolow will be managing daily news desk operations.
``A lot of talk has been going on for a long time about the look and sound and feel of the program,'' Hoagland says. ``Every element has to express what you're trying to do - the music, the set, the people, the format, and, most important, the story selection.''
The new program's production style is described as going beyond a studio dialogue, or ``talking heads,'' format to become highly visual. A videotape of a ``World Monitor'' run-through confirms the point. From the opening credits, a flow of images fills the screen as world events are analyzed.
``We're trying to develop a number of new approaches,'' Hoagland explains. ``The program includes the news, but it needs to be more - events and trends that people need to know but wouldn't find otherwise.''
How will such an approach stack up against the syndicated TV show to be premi`ered on the very same night by another newspaper, USA Today?
``It's really been a plus for both programs,'' Hoagland asserts. ``Generally speaking, we will tend to go deep, and USA Today will tend to go broad. We'll have fewer segments, they'll have more. ... USA Today takes a very different approach to the news from the Monitor, but it's a useful publication. The characteristics of the parent organizations will be evident in both programs.''
``World Monitor'' will offer advertisers what Hoagland calls ``an old-fashioned sense of identity and commitment, not just buying a spot. Also, we and Discovery see a strong role for this program in current-affairs programs in schools, through print study materials and the program itself.''
The Discovery network reaches an average of about 160,000 households per show on an all-day basis. At prime time (8-11 p.m.), this rises to some 290,000 homes for the average show. In terms of physical connections into the system, 34 million homes subscribe to cable systems that carry Discovery.
Most nights ``World Monitor'' will include reports by one or more of its senior correspondents, says editorial producer David Cook. They are Ned Temko in London, Julia Malone in Washington, and Takashi Oka in Tokyo. Sometimes experts will be called in, and the correspondents and the experts will talk in a global conversation about a specific issue.
In addition to the ``headline'' section of breaking news, feature segments will often be offered. These may cover any of a great range of topics from the environment, to political and economic trends or the arts. For example, if there's a major art exhibition anywhere in the world that the producers feel viewers should be aware of, the show is likely to cover it.
Most nights, there will also be an opinion or editorial piece, and these may originate not just from the United States but from commentators around the world.
``We`re really trying to present people to people throughout the world, to give viewers news of substance, free of sensation and in a lively way,'' Hoagland says.