he Christian Science Monitor said Tuesday it will become the first national newspaper to drop its daily print edition and focus on publishing online, succumbing to the financial pressure squeezing its industry harder than ever.
BOSTON — The Christian Science Monitor said Tuesday it will become the first national newspaper to drop its daily print edition and focus on publishing online, succumbing to the financial pressure squeezing its industry harder than ever.
Come April, the Boston-based general-interest paper — founded in 1908 and the winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes — will print only a weekend edition after struggling financially for decades, its editor announced Tuesday.
The Monitor’s circulation has fallen from a peak of 223,000 in 1970 to about 50,000 now, while its online traffic has soared. The newspaper gets about 5 million page-views per month, compared with about 4 million five years ago and 1 million a decade ago.
The Monitor was one of the first newspapers in the country to put content online, beginning in 1995, when correspondent David Rohde was taken prisoner in Bosnia.
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“Obviously, this is going to help with our costs, but it also enables us to put much more emphasis on the Web and basically put our reporting assets and our editorial assets where we think growth will be in a very tough industry in the future, which we think is the Web,” said Editor John Yemma, who was The Boston Globe’s multimedia editor before he moved to the Monitor in June.
Cutting print editions also will help the paper reduce its dependence on sizable subsidies from its owner, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, which now provides more than half its operating budget, Yemma said.
Yemma said the move to “Web-first” publishing will likely result in some job cuts, but it is unclear how many.
The Monitor is known for its in-depth international reporting, particularly in the Middle East.
In 2006, Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Monitor, was kidnapped in Baghdad and released safely after nearly three months in captivity. Carroll, who was made a staff writer while she was still being held hostage but has since left the newspaper, described her ordeal in an 11-part series published in the Monitor.
Like many other newspapers, it has suffered as more people get their news from the Internet — which offers newspapers much less revenue even when it brings many more readers.
Andie Tucher, an associate professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School Of Journalism, said the Monitor has traditionally been a newspaper people read for in-depth articles after they get local news from a local or state newspaper. With even small newspapers being squeezed by the Web, it makes sense that a “second read” like the Monitor would be harder hit.
“That’s the real crisis for papers like this. Rather than reading that as my second or third paper, I now go online and browse Slate and Salon and the political sites, and I can read any other paper I like. It becomes much less urgent to indulge in The Christian Science Monitor,” said Tucher, who teaches a course on the history of American journalism.
The paper is not the first but is the most prominent to scale back its print version in favor of online news. In April, The Capital Times, of Madison, Wis., switched to publishing mainly on the Internet.