I just about fell off the couch when NPR’s “Marketplace” mentioned this evening that the Christian Science Monitor plans to drop its print edition in April. It’s not as if the New York Times or WaPo dropped that bombshell, but nevertheless, it’s a turning point.
While it has a circulation of only about 50,000, the century-old Monitor, with a net loss of $18.9 million covered by subsidies from the Mother Church and an endowment fund, was able to maintain 9 foreign bureaus, 9 U.S. bureaus, and 100 news staffers. They can, perhaps, maintain all of that with a subsidy half as large by cutting out the print edition, with the exception of a printed weekly magazine. In their own words, the Monitor will be “the first newspaper with a national audience to shift from a daily print format to an online publication that is updated continuously each day.”
In my second post on this blog, on September 20, I wrote:
To have even a chance of survival, the mindset of the industry needs to become: We are in the business of publishing information content continuously on our web sites; every 24 hours (for now, and this may ultimately change to once or twice weekly) we gather some of that information into a printed product and distribute it, but our business is focused on and driven by our online operations. Right now, I don’t see anyone in the industry articulating this direction unequivocally.
Scratch that last sentence. The Christian Science Monitor has seen the light. Congratulations. Who’s next?