The Christian Science Monitor's Bold (And Successful) Experiments

from the doing-it-right dept

Reader cram points us to a paidContent post by John Yemma, the editor of The Christian Science Monitor, in which he makes a lot of great points about digital strategies for news publishing.

A year ago, we ceased publishing the daily, 100-year-old Christian Science Monitor newspaper and launched a weekly magazine to complement our website, on which we doubled down by reorienting our newsroom to be web-first. Our web traffic climbed from 6 million page views last April to 13 million in February. Our print circulation rose from 43,000 to 77,000 in the same period.

This is the sort of bold move that might be the last hope for some struggling publications, and it's also an example of CwF+RtB. Magazines still hold value to readers as an attractive physical item in a way that newspapers don't—by connecting with fans online and then giving them a better reason to buy the print product, CSM increased the readership of both.

Those who defend newspapers out of nostalgia often cite the relaxing Sunday newspaper as a reason the medium should survive, but what they fail to realize is that there's no reason that experience has to die along with the cheap daily rag. If there is genuine demand for it, publishers will supply it, and smart publications will shift their focus to improve that aspect of their product, just like CSM did.

Yemma also warns against putting too much stock in "digital razzle dazzle": multimedia for multimedia's sake, deployed with little or no thought given to its purpose or effectiveness. The editorial and design aspects of print news have been evolving for decades; digital news must go back to first premises.

The multimedia debate needs a new question: How are we using technology to create a more relevant product? We're not going to "save" media by out-featuring each other. We can and will re-cement media by using the technology to deliver the experience consumers want most: intelligent, meaningful news that's accessible where they are in the moment.

Hopefully it isn't too blasphemous to say: amen to that!



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    I think one should also consider part of the objective of the the Christian Science Monitor's and (I myself am Christian) that it's not just a for profit organization but at least part of their objective is to spread the evangelize and so increasing viewers is an end in and of itself. However, someone who is only interested in profits may not be as interested in viewers that don't help generate profits.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Reason2Bitch (profile), Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:26pm

      Re:

      Ignorant coward!

      CSM's name comes from a donor. It is NOT a christian newspaper. Given your ignorance I don't think you are capable of finding the relevant wikipedia article. So: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Christian_Science_Monitor .

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:30pm

      Maybe so

      I am not Christian, and fail to see the evangelism you speak of. Perhaps it's there and just flies below my radar, I don't know.

      But I do know this -- in an era when there is almost no actual, quality journalism being done by the mainstream journalism outlets, the CSM remains one of the few exceptions to this plight. Evangelism or not, we need more of this type of thing.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:49pm

      Re:

      I think one should also consider part of the objective of the the Christian Science Monitor's and (I myself am Christian) that it's not just a for profit organization but at least part of their objective is to spread the evangelize and so increasing viewers is an end in and of itself.

      CSM has nothing to do with promoting Christian Science.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 4:55pm

        Re: Re:

        My mistake. Thanks. I assumed by the name that's what it was for, though I had never heard of them before.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:02pm

        Re: Re:

        (to continue) Ok I read through the site

        "In an era when the mainstream media has narrowed its lens, we're convinced readers yearn for the opposite."

        "No, it’s a real news organization owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., USA."

        http://www.csmonitor.com/About/The-Monitor-difference

        Also, the wikipedia article above says

        "It was started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist."

        and the owner is the "Church of Christ, Scientist"

        I think it is safe to assume that profits aren't the only motivation of this organization and that they are motivated in part to promote their message independent of their profits.

        That's not to say I disagree with their promotion or business model and I certainly don't agree with IP laws.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          icon
          vivaelamor (profile), Apr 5th, 2010 @ 4:30am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "I think it is safe to assume that profits aren't the only motivation of this organization and that they are motivated in part to promote their message independent of their profits."

          Rupert Murdoch is religious yet that doesn't appear to interfere with his greed.

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Jeremy Day, Apr 10th, 2010 @ 2:22pm

      Re:

      Actually the Christian Science Monitor has been praised for its objective reporting on numerous occasions and has avoided evangelizing as a rule. A number of heralded journalists have worked within the ranks of the Christian Science Monitor with moderate success. The name is quite misleading.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 5:08pm

    Unexpected insight from the CSM. I guess since they're smaller they can try these "crazy" ideas?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2010 @ 6:15pm

    Gotta love the christ-fearing coming on here and saying "Christian Science Monitor" isn't religious in any way. I mean seriously, it's RIGHT IN THE NAME.

    And #2, did you even READ you own link? I mean seriously? derp derp?

    I would never read this rag, no matter how much they tell me how "unbiased" they are.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      vivaelamor (profile), Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 5:25am

      Re:

      "I would never read this rag, no matter how much they tell me how "unbiased" they are."

      Well, there's someone I'd listen to on whether to read it.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 3:20pm

      Re:

      Gotta love the christ-fearing coming on here and saying "Christian Science Monitor" isn't religious in any way. I mean seriously, it's RIGHT IN THE NAME.

      CSM has been a well respected newspaper for a very, very long time. Please, look around. They are NOT a religious paper. Seriously. Before they ran into economic troubles they were considered on par with the NY Times in terms of reporting quality.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 12:32am

    Add a Like/dislike button

    I liked this post, some one who finally realizes the web can be help expand their paper sales. Who would have thought it would be a religious group?

    On a tangent, does tech dirt keep track of the number of discrete clicks each article receives?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      vivaelamor (profile), Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 5:28am

      Re: Add a Like/dislike button

      "Who would have thought it would be a religious group?"

      My impression is that they are a relatively normal newspaper with a requirement from the founder that they publish one article about religion each issue and have the name of the church in their title.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 8:39am

    csm needs the internet badly. they arent a newspaper like normal local or regional, they are a religious group slanting the news that needs world wide coverage. considering drudge gets 26 million viewers a day they are still small potatoes. csm just slants the news badly why celebrate that???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 5:09pm

      Re:

      Hi TAM, you're a bit late to the ignorance party. Try to keep up next time.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      •  
        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 6:46pm

        Re: Re:

        Late to the ignorance party? They were there before anyone else even bothered to show up.

        "Monitor staff have been the recipients of seven Pulitzer Prizes, the most recent in 2002."

        How many Pulitzer Prizes has Matt Drudge received? Oh right, screw excellence, it's all about eyeballs because the more people who read your work the more correct it is!

        That's just basic logic.

         

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        •  
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Apr 3rd, 2010 @ 7:41pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "How many Pulitzer Prizes has Matt Drudge received?"

          Oh yes, because some prize that some person/entity grants is the ultimate arbitrator of truth and good journalism since the Pulitzer Prize authorities are computers and machines and hence can't be subject to bias and prejudice.

          "it's all about eyeballs because the more people who read your work the more correct it is!"

          Who, besides your strawman, is making this argument?

           

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      John Fenderson (profile), Apr 4th, 2010 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      "considering drudge gets 26 million viewers a day they are still small potatoes"

      You're comparing turds to tomatoes. Drudge doesn't do journalism.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 4th, 2010 @ 1:04pm

    CMS is a respected news publication which has nothing to do with its name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    identicon
    AW, Apr 5th, 2010 @ 1:14pm

    As someone who is not a Christian, CSM is single handedly one of the best newspapers around. They have far better reporting and they are one of the few places I will spend what little money I have, regardless of one "Christian" article per month. You'll get far better and more in depth reporting than most other places

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  •  
    icon
    marak (profile), Apr 6th, 2010 @ 4:54pm

    hmm

    6 million page views in april... 13 in feb... so your not really seeing a growth? are we talking page views per year or in total and over how many years?

    Cmon mike you usually point things like that out :s

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    •  
      icon
      Marcus Carab (profile), Apr 19th, 2010 @ 9:20am

      Re: hmm

      I think it's fairly obvious from the quote that he is saying 6-million page views in the month of April, up to 13-million in the month of February. You do realize that depending on when you start an experiment, February can come after April right?

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This