A different way of doing journalism

What the world would most miss if the Monitor were to vanish, we believe, is its completely different way of seeing the news.

ANN HERMES/STAFF
THE MONITOR’S MANAGING EDITOR, AMELIA NEWCOMB, CHATS WITH COLLEAGUES. EDITOR MARK SAPPENFIELD IS SEATED AT RIGHT.

If the Christian Science Monitor were to vanish, what would the world lose, really?

A good international news organization? Perhaps, but is that good enough? I know the media are not held in the highest esteem, but as someone who has been working at the craft since Journalism 201 with Professor Richardson, I feel there is plenty of good journalism for those who care to find it.

How about: An unbiased organization? 

That’s closer. But in this polarized time, we’re struggling with our biases along with everyone else. I hope we do better than most, but even if we were the world’s most impartial source of news, I don’t know if that would matter as much as we hope it would.

In many ways, facts have never been less important. Increasingly, if people don’t like one set of “facts,” they find another set that suits them better. Being impartial and fact-based is essential, but it’s not enough.

What the world would most miss if the Monitor were to vanish, we believe, is its completely different way of seeing the news.

On May 8, we launched The Christian Science Monitor Daily to make this different view – this core point of our distinction – even clearer and more accessible. It is a package of five stories, videos, or graphics emailed to subscribers every weekday. I hope some of you have seen it. It will not replace the Weekly. Instead, it aims to make the refreshment that the Weekly provides a daily experience. 

The goal is a daily news digest that helps readers consider different perspectives and ideas, that challenges them to open their minds and hearts. (For more details, please email me.)

This Monitor experience feels so needed. So much news today seems to stand aghast at how hard things are. From health-care reform to racism to terrorism to immigration – you name it. We so often seem mesmerized by the discord and the disagreement. That’s natural, in a way. That’s what appears to be going on.

But there’s so much more.

For the most part, news is what happens when different opinions about progress clash. They can range from a terrorist’s 8th-century view of the world to Elon Musk’s dream of a settlement on Mars. What matters is understanding that each person is trying to influence the world in a way that fits his or her values and worldview.

When this is lost – when we just focus on events and don’t delve into the views and values that are actually shaping the world – we lose what matters. We lose the ability to see how all these events point to the winding path forward that humanity is taking. 

What matters most is that path. We’re all on it, and the Monitor is about helping readers see it more clearly by pushing aside froth and fear and focusing on what each of us cares about most and why.

This is about more than facts. It’s a different way of doing journalism. We hope you are as enthusiastic about it as we are – and that you’ll join us.

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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.