First US national newspaper gives up on print

The Christian Science Monitor, which is celebrating its 100th birthday this month, is to stop printing a daily edition next year – instead it will focus on its website and produce a once-a-week print edition.

It is the first national newspaper in the US to essentially give up on print,

Owned by the Church of Christ Scientist, the Monitor is unusual in that it is mostly delivered by mail. At one time it had a circulation of 220,000, but now it sells around 50,000.

Income had declined and although the paper is officially non-profit the church is reluctant to continue underwriting the mounting operation costs. Both the print and web versions are light on advertising and the cost to the church is said to be around $12 million a year. Dropping the daily print edition is expected to save $4 million a year.

The paper’s eight foreign bureaus will continue to operate, providing stories for the website and the once-a-week print issue. There will be some layoffs, but the Monitor’s editor John Yemma, promised they would not be severe.

Under the new system reporters will file daily stories for the web and update them a few times a day, they will also write for the weekend edition and a new Sunday magazine that is also part of the plan. Its emphasis will be international news and will be intended, the Monitor’s editor said, to satisfy readers who are attached to print..

Announcing the changes Yemma predicted that most newspapers will have to make a similar leap in the next five years. “Everyone, sooner or later, is going to have to make the transition”, he said.

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