Christian Science Monitor will drop its daily print edition

Christian Science Monitor will drop its daily print edition

The Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday said it will become the first national newspaper in the US to stop its daily print edition and shift coverage online in an attempt to reinvent the crumbling newspaper business model.

Starting in April, the century-old, Boston-based publication that is known for its international and analytical news coverage said it will push daily stories onto a revamped website and roll out a magazine-style weekly.

The non-profit newspaper, which has won seven Pulitzer Prizes, produces a daily paper Monday through Friday that is distributed through the mail with an annual subscription rate of $210 a year.

Monitor editor John Yemma said the moves, which could result in a reduction of 10-15% of its business and editorial staff of 123, are aimed at cutting the company’s $25.7 million (Rs128 crore) budget.

He said the new model of shutting down the daily newspaper and focusing reporters’ efforts on the website could be a blueprint for other newspapers.

“By freeing people from the print production ball and chain, we make a much more competitive website and we will help the journalists be much more competitive," he said. “Everybody seems to recognize that print is on its way out."

The move comes as US newspapers struggle with sharp drops in circulation and advertising dollars and more readers turn to the Web for their news, classified ads, and other information.

Newspapers across the US suffered an average circulation drop of nearly 5%, according to data released on Monday by the Audit Bureau of Circulations. The Monitor’s circulation fell from a peak of 230,000 in the early 1970s to about 52,000 today.

In an effort to hold on to readers, many newspapers have been investing more time, money, and staff to make their websites better, while some smaller, local publications have stopped printing a daily paper altogether to focus on their online operations.

“I think we are going to hear of this happening a lot more. I know there are a lot of newspapers teetering on the brink of instability," said Kelly McBride, ethics group leader for the Florida-based Poynter Institute, a non-profit resource for journalists.

“We don’t know whether this will be a last dying gasp or whether it will be the first steps of transformation," McBride added.

© 2008/The Boston Globe