CS Monitor Moving to Web: A Harbinger of What’s to Come for Newspapers?

Many of us have been saying it: One day newspapers won’t be in print anymore, and we’ll get their information from our computers. I was an editor of a newspaper who got out of the business a little over two years ago, and I’m not sure I’ve read an actual print version of a newspaper since — although I frequently visit their web sites. Granted, I think I’m allergic to newsprint as I have an immune system (and occasionally a disposition) comparable to the Bubble Boy on "Seinfeld,"  but there’s also been no reason to. However, some say there are folks who will always want a tangible copy, so I guess the argument for print still exists. 

At any rate, the Christian Science Monitor, which is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary, is now set to change its business paradigm to focus on the Web.

Judy Wolff (chairman of the board of trustees for the Christian Science Publishing Society) cited three goals that drove what she called "our evolving strategy" for the Monitor:

• Producing a website that can be updated 24/7 and delivered instantaneously "better fulfills Mrs. Eddy’s original vision" for the Monitor to be daily than does a five-day-a-week paper delivered by mail with frequent delays.

• Focusing resources on the fast-growing Web audience for news rather than on the economically troubled daily newspaper industry "increases the Monitor’s reach and impact." The Monitor’s website currently attracts about 1.5 million visitors a month.

• Eliminating the major production and distribution costs of a daily newspaper will allow the Monitor to "make progress toward achieving financial sustainability" while supporting its global news resources.

I’m still not totally sure how this profit model would work for other papers, though. The Monitor has the benefit of being subsidized by the Christian Science church as the paper is estimated to lose, in all its forms, $18.9 million this year. Also noteworthy is this excerpt:

This is a period of extreme financial difficulty for all news organizations. New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr., for instance, was asked at a conference in California on Oct. 22 whether the Times would be a print product in 10 years. "The heart of the answer must be (that) we can’t care," Sulzberger said. He added that he expects print to be around for a long time but "we must be where people want us for our information."

Read the full article here. Let us know what you think. Is print dead or will the average American reader always have a little ink smudge on his fingers?