A change at the Monitor this year

By the time you read this, we will have made a change aimed at both unifying the Monitor and putting the Weekly magazine on the best path to thrive.

Alfredo Sosa/Staff/File
Monitor Weekly Editor Owen Thomas checks over magazine proof pages in the Monitor newsroom in Boston in May 2018.

To many of you reading this column, The Christian Science Monitor is a weekly magazine. To many other readers (and for some of you, too!), the Monitor is also an online publication that lands in their email inbox every weekday. To millions more, it is a news website.

But to the dozens of Monitor staff members around the world, the Monitor is just the Monitor – one organization that works to serve its readers in the varying ways that meet their needs. In recent years, we’ve tried to lean in on this idea: Everyone, no matter how they choose to engage with the Monitor, should get a common experience, not just in our journalism, but in the feel and look of all our different formats.

By the time you read this, we will have made a change aimed at both unifying the Monitor and putting the Weekly magazine on the best path to thrive in the future. On Sept. 15, Noelle Swan took charge as the editor of the Monitor’s Weekly content. Noelle’s first and most important qualification is her love for the Weekly.

“I first fell in love with the Monitor Weekly as a reader,” Noelle says. “In my seven years at the Monitor, I have been delighted to contribute to the magazine, first as an intern, then as a reporter, and most recently as the editor of the Science and Nature page.”

The Weekly editor of the past three years, Owen Thomas, has stepped down and will be focusing on The Home Forum, which he has long managed with aplomb. As one of the features instituted by our founder, Mary Baker Eddy, The Home Forum occupies a unique place as an oasis of humanity, wit, and gentle insight. Owen embodies all these qualities and will continue to look for ways to amplify them.

“Editing The Home Forum, for me, is like being the host at a lively dinner party,” Owen says, “where the guests are all good friends – fascinating, loving, funny, erudite, thought-provoking, and delightful friends – each with an engaging story to tell. My job is to invite them to speak.”

The Monitor owes Owen a debt of gratitude for his leadership on the magazine. He served as deputy editor from the Weekly’s inception in 2009 until he became editor in 2017. His tenure has been marked by a love for the publication and a desire to see it flourish, from careful tending of headlines to helping shepherd its redesign last year.

Readers of the Daily will recognize Noelle as (until now) the Daily’s deputy editor and a frequent contributor to the introductions that lead off the Daily edition. Her experience working for both the Daily and Weekly will help fuel collaborations that knit the Daily and Weekly together as one seamless and complementary experience. Our recent women’s suffrage issue, which had unique elements in both the Daily and Weekly but also strong collaboration between them, is an example of how a tighter relationship can strengthen both products.

Noelle brings a deep love of the Monitor mission and how it can bless all humanity, especially today. “Now more than ever it seems,” she says, “the world needs the uplifting spirit and hope that the Monitor provides.”

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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.