New look, changing team for the Monitor

Every so often, I take this space to let you know about happenings at the Monitor.

Alfredo Sosa/Staff
Owen Thomas, Monitor Weekly editor, is overseeing the new Heart of the News feature.

Every so often, I take this space to let you know about happenings at the Monitor. I’ve saved up several months’ worth of news for this column, so there’s plenty to share.

Introducing a new feature. This week, we debut Heart of the News. This came from our constant desire to sharpen the unique aspects of the Monitor – the reasons you subscribe. We hear all the time about how much you love Points of Progress and People Making a Difference. Heart of the News is our effort to bring that same lens to the news. It replaces One Week and the Focus story and, we hope, helps make the Daily and Weekly more complementary.

Changing of the guard for Weekly design. The vision for the look and feel of the Weekly magazine largely came from one man, John Kehe. Our design director for 20 years, he has shaped the magazine since its launch, and his touch is everywhere, from the covers to the color palette to features like Points of Progress. John has now stepped down, and we are profoundly grateful for his inspired work and commitment to making the Monitor reflect the highest standards of excellence. His role will be taken over by a team that includes Jake Turcotte, Christian Scripter, Karen Norris, and Julie Fallon. To get a glimpse of their handiwork, check out the cover story in the Sept. 3 issue.

Reopening the Canada bureau. When the opportunity arose for staff writer Sara Miller Llana to move from Paris to Canada, we jumped. Canada has long been a quiet leader, and at a time when the West’s post-World War II institutions are retrenching, its voice is growing louder. As a former Latin America correspondent, Sara will also cover the Americas more broadly. In Europe, staff writer Peter Ford remains in Paris, and we’ll also be working more closely with two freelance correspondents who have distinguished themselves on Monitor pages for their Middle East coverage, Kristen Chick and Dominique Soguel. They’re both now living in Europe.

A Congress/California switch. Francine Kiefer has brought the Monitor’s light to one of the toughest beats in journalism today – Congress. Now she’ll be embracing a new adventure: California. It will end up being a swap. Former California staff writer Jessica Mendoza has already moved to Washington and will take over the Congress beat after the midterm elections. Jessica is committed to rethinking how we in the media cover politics – stepping away from the partisan narratives to look at the mirror it holds up to us. In the meantime, we’ve brought on Martin Kuz, who wrote a wonderful cover story on veterans coming home several years ago, to work as our California correspondent for the next year. He’s already begun, as you’ve probably seen, covering Western wildfires and police reform with this trademark elegance.

Stay tuned on China. This spring, former staff writer Michael Holtz decided to move on to other opportunities after two years of excellent service. As we look for a new correspondent, former staff writer Ann Scott Tyson has agreed to fill in this fall. Some of you might remember her exceptional recent cover story on returning to China after a 25-year absence.

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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.