CSM Going Online – Only

While scanning my network this morning, looking for something I didn’t know yesterday, I ran across this very important piece of news, from The New York Times.

After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print. ((Clifford. Stephanie. “Christian Science Paper to End Daily Print Edition,” The New York Times 28 Oct 2008. 29 Oct 2008. <http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/business/media/29paper.html> ))

The CSM will go online-only in April of 2009, introducing a new weekend magazine. The newspaper’s editor, John Yemma, said that focusing on the Web would enable it to continue news collection through its eight foreign bureaus. 

In an industry that has been conducting layoffs, closing bureaus and shrinking the size of the product, The Monitor’s experiment will be closely tracked.

I guess we’re all watching to see if this is a trend — or if the trend has already begun.  What do we do when virtually all of the information we need on a daily basis is available as digital content over the networks — and exclusively digital and networked.

Essentially, anyone without the technologies for accessing the Internet, and the skills to use that technology, may as well not know how to read.  We’ve decided as a nation that all children should learn to read.  For the same reason, it is crucial that every child and family should have convenient access to the Internet.

The NYT article adds,

The Monitor is an anomaly in journalism, a nonprofit financed by a church and delivered through the mail. But with seven Pulitzer Prizes and a reputation for thoughtful writing and strong international coverage, it long maintained an outsize influence in the publishing world…

Of even more importance to our evolving definitions of literacy is the practice among cash-strapped news agencies to buy news coverage and stories from the corporate world.  How will we filter out possible biases, when news stories are being produced by Exxon or Haliburton. Does Haliburton have an interest in expanding our notions of literacy.

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7 thoughts on “CSM Going Online – Only”

  1. For those of us who still access “mother paper” for our morning news, I hope this is not the beginning of the demise of all print news. One of the reasons that Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist has given for ending the Opus comic strip is that his core audience (readers 13 – 30) were no longer reading the newspaper. The final Opus will appear on Sunday, November 2nd.

    See the interview in the SF Chronicle at: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/10/27/DD8M13NAL5.DTL

  2. It’s a good question, whether this is part of a trend. The NYT’s point about the Monitor (where I worked for a number of years) is an anomaly as a paper distributed via snail mail is part of the equation. There aren’t many nationally distributed newspapers in this geo. vast country – I think just the Times itself, the Wall Street Journal, and USATODAY. I believe all are printed in remote cities and distributed the way local papers are (local dlvry trucks, not USPS). The Monitor tried remote printing in a couple of locations (Midwest and L.A., I think) but still relied on the postal service for distribution beyond those 2 locales. It just wasn’t feasible financially or in terms of timeliness (subscribers would get copies in clumps often several days late). So if this is a trend, watch what the MUCH, higher ad-rev bigger-budget national dailies do first – not newspapers in general. Big local dailies like the Chicago Trib and the L.A. Times are struggling, yes, but local papers may first morph into the loss leaders in businesses publishing the news in various media.

    Note that the print Monitor is going to a weekly magazine-ish format; print’s not being abandoned by CSM entirely – yet, anyway. David, you’re point’s well taken, but there are definitely some interim stages and years before Americans have no news-on-paper to read, and – even if that happens – they’ll still need to read. Meanwhile, I do think one of Bush’s unfulfilled “promises” (broadband to rural areas) is important and the just-passed federal law calling for a study of broadband penetration nationwide is an essential step. Meanwhile, I love projects like Peggy Sheehy’s, getting students to read entire books and pore over the details so they can act out “Of Mice and Men” in Second Life are brilliant, making reading as important as ever – and detailed reading more pressing than ever for virtual (and maybe future) judges, court reporters, jury members, and D.A.’s.

  3. I am interested to see how publishers like these will deliver their daily news to cell phones like the krave. Has anyone else seen it? (motorola.com/krave) It’s a flip phone with a large touch screen display, 2 MP camera, full html browser and bluetooth functionality. Definitely worth checking out.

    1. An excellent question, M, and this is the second time I’ve heard referenct to the Krave today. I’m using an App from Associated Press on my iPhone. It’s largely menu driven, but the final articles are quite satisfying. I think that it has a lot to do with bandwidth. When I’m in my home or connected to WiFi in some other way, it is a practical experience. But, via the cell towers, there is way to much waiting.

      The size of the screen doesn’t bother me, though I continue to believe that it is too small as a primary learning tool. So, I would suspect that it is a problem of bandwidth. I think that customization of your news will come into play, though there are problems embedded in this, as I’ve discussed before.

  4. The world is a-changing. I heard from an NBC marketing person this week that the average age of the Nightly News viewer is 62. Yes, sixty-two. That doesn’t bode well for traditional news reporting & delivery. The demise of a major print property is yest another sign of this sea change . . . What will the future hold? What consumers / users decide it will!

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