How the Monitor is doing

Three years ago, the Monitor embarked on a bold strategy of Web-first journalism. We are making steady progress toward our goal of becoming self-sustaining.

On May 1, the Monitor entered its fourth year as a Web-first news organization.

Here's where we have traveled since 2009: Our Web traffic has grown five-fold following our shift from being primarily a daily newspaper. Our weekly news magazine, which we redesigned and relaunched in early April of this year, is doing well in print and in its iPad and e-reader editions. Our Daily News Briefing has a steady subscription base. Advertising revenue is growing. Content sales are healthy. The fiscal year that ended on April 30 was the best we've done financially since 1963.

Bottom line: With revenue increasing and modest cost reductions year over year, we've halved our church subsidy and are committed to zeroing it out. Our journalism, which is reaching many times more people than ever before, remains strong and original. Recent examples: The April 9 Monitor Weekly cover story on the reversal of immigration from Mexico, which painted a human-scale picture of why that is the case, was in readers' hands weeks before a recent Pew report confirming the trend. We explained America's gun culture and the "stand your ground" movement weeks before Trayvon Martin was killed. We've been in Myanmar during the stirrings of democracy; Afghanistan during each turn of the war; Egypt before, during, and after Tahrir Square.

 We have correspondents around the world and throughout the US. We're on the campaign trail, at the Supreme Court, and on top of techscience, and the environment. If you read us, you have context for the news in advance of the news.

The point is that our tradition of global, humane, explanatory journalism is not only undiminished by our digital-first strategy but is more timely, relevant, and widespread than ever. (Sure, I'm biased when I say that, but you can easily judge for yourself.)

You might wonder if we are a model for the rest of the news industry. Yes and no. Every news organization has to make the shift from print to digital, to figure out how to carry on the vitally necessary mission of journalism in a new economic environment. Timing varies, depending on business conditions. Our circumstances are unique and always have been. But you might see the systematic decrease of our longstanding subsidy as similar to the erosion of print ad revenue at a locally based newspaper.

 Model or not, the most important thing is that we have adapted and are making steady progress toward break-even. Our journalism is strong and distinct. Our goal is to become self-sustaining, which will safeguard the continuation of the Monitor's 104-year-old journalistic tradition. 

 John Yemma, editor

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.