Christian Science Monitor to go weekly

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Daily newspaper The Christian Science Monitor will cut its frequency and focus more heavily on its Web products in 2009.

By April, print will be limited to a weekly, weekend edition, with longer analytical stories. As part of the paper's new, Web-focused strategy, daily e-newsletters will be available by subscription, and the Web site, CSMonitor.com, will be upgraded and updated more regularly. The new site also will provide more opportunity for interaction between the Monitor and its readers.

“The Monitor has been losing money for the past few decades, and we have been looking at options for about two years now,” explained Susan Hackney, VP of marketing for the Monitor. “The newspaper is distributed nationally, so the cost of print, production and distribution is high, and more people are getting their news on a daily basis online, so it was a natural direction for us. It will provide our loyal readership with an opportunity to read the news when they are going to have the time to read it.”

“We're trying to expand our portfolio a little bit because, traditionally, we primarily relied on subscription revenue from the daily,” added Patty Collinsworth, circulation marketing director for the Monitor.

The Monitor is making efforts to transition its 52,000 readers to the weekly print and daily online versions, with the goal of reaching 70,000 within the next four years. In a message on the site, Monitor managing publisher Jonathan Wells included the request, “If you are a current print or Treeless subscriber, we ask you to stay with us through this transition.”

The new print and online editions will be offered separately and as a promotional package deal to both subscribers and new prospects. A year's subscription to the new weekly goes for $89. With the daily, a year's subscription was $219.

The Monitor's new Web focus is expected to draw in a younger overall audience. A 2007 MRI Custom Division study showed that average age for the print product is 64.6. Print readers also skew female and have a mean annual household income of $112,500. Web readers, on the other hand, skew heavily male and have an average income of $79,949; and the average age is 40, according to ComScore Plan Metrix, July 2008.

“With print readers we are always trying to get the median age down because it's quite high right now,” Collinsworth pointed out. “We hope that the weekly will appeal to a younger audience who is still working and doesn't have as much time to read a daily but would have time over the weekend.”

In the current budget year ending April 30, the Monitor is expected to lose $18.9 million. As of 2013, however, losses are predicted to reach only $10.5 million, thanks to the strategy shift.

Modest cuts in the Monitor's 95-person staff are expected to follow the realignment.


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