After a decade on radio and nearly nine decades in newsprint, The Christian Science Monitor is expanding its reach to cyberspace.
Starting yesterday, the contents of this newspaper and Monitor Radio broadcasts became available on the graphical part of the Internet, known as the World Wide Web.
The site combines text, images, and sound. With a properly equipped computer, users will be able to listen to Monitor Radio broadcasts over the Internet. If they access the site at the top of the hour, they can hear Monitor Radio's hourly news update as it's happening. "As far as we know, we're the first to offer real-time audio news that's of a general interest nature," says Anne Collier, editor of the Electronic Edition of The Christian Science Monitor.
Other highlights of the electronic edition include: an interactive crossword puzzle, various Internet-related forums where readers can share ideas, and a searchable archive of Monitor articles from 1980 to the present.
The electronic edition is free to all Internet users for a limited time. Eventually, the staff expects to begin charging for at least some of the site's premium features, such as the Monitor archive and the interactive crossword. Those charges, combined with revenue from advertisers, are designed to make the venture self-supporting, says Miles Harbur, chief operating officer of the Publishing Society.
"We're doing this to broaden the outreach of The Christian Science Monitor," says David Cook, the Monitor's editor. "The e-Monitor should especially appeal to students, many of whom already rely on the Web for news, and Monitor subscribers who live in areas where daily delivery is difficult or impossible."
Most major newspapers are offering sites on the Internet. According to Editor and Publisher magazine 881 papers now have such sites. The Monitor site is being done "very frugally," Mr. Cook says. By relying largely on the content already available for the newspaper and radio, the venture has become operational with a small full-time staff.
One challenge all on-line newspapers face is whether their electronic editions will draw away subscribers from the newspaper. On balance, the Monitor's editors believe the Web site will help the paper.
"We believe the Web offers a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness of the Monitor and to have our unique editorial approach and coverage available to millions of individuals who do not now see the paper," says J. Anthony Periton, editor in chief of the Christian Science Publishing Society.
The Publishing Society has reached an agreement in principle with CompuServe to provide access to the Monitor Web site.
MAKING THE CONNECTION
To connect to the Monitor's Web site, you will need:
*A reasonably fast computer. We recommend a 486 with a minimum of 8 megabytes of RAM, or a Mac that's at least System 7.0 and has at least 8 megabytes of RAM.
*A color monitor and a mouse.
*A modem capable of operating at 14.4 kilobytes per second (28.8 will give you an even faster download), or a faster network connection often available if you're getting on the Internet at work.
*An Internet access account. Most cities in the United States and many elsewhere in the world have local Internet service providers (ISPs) that offer a telephone connection to the 'Net - typically called "SLIP" or "PPP" accounts. Several national and multinational companies also provide such service.
To hear audio from Monitor Radio, you will need a sound card and a computer with speakers. And you will need to download the RealAudio player. It's free, and there's a link to the download site from our pages containing Monitor Radio stories and newscasts. The site's URL, or digital Internet address, is: http://www.csmonitor.com.
The Monitor cannot provide individual advice about computers, modems, or local ISPs, but if you need assistance with our site itself, call (617) 450-7410 or send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here are the numbers of a few of the larger ISPs: AT&T (800-967-5363), Netcom (800-638-2661), and CompuServe (800-SPRY-NET).