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The Christian Science Monitor is a Boston-based online news organization and former newspaper, the first national American newspaper to replace its daily print edition with a web operation.
The Monitor is a nonprofit organization owned by the First Church of Christ, Scientist. Though the Monitor has been subsidized by the Christian Science church for most of its history (about $7.5 million annually in total subsidy as of 2014) and publishes a daily religious article, it is not a religious publication.
The Monitor was founded in 1908 as an alternative to the yellow journalism of that era. It specializes in in-depth foreign reporting and analytical journalism. The Monitor has won seven Pulitzer Prizes. It also was one of the first American newspapers to put content online, in 1995, and one of the first to use RSS, in 2002.
With steadily falling circulation and projected annual losses of $18.9 million, the Monitor announced in late 2008 it would shift its print edition from a daily to a weekly and operate as a web-based organization. The change was made largely for financial reasons, as the paper’s relatively small circulation and wide distribution area made a daily print edition particularly expensive to produce and deliver. With the move online, the Monitor is working to gradually lessen its reliance on the church’s subsidy.
The Monitor’s editor, John Yemma, said the shift to the web would include the addition of shorter, newsier, more blog-like stories, as well as the Monitor’s traditional longer-form stories. Its website remains characterized by original text stories and photography, rather than video or interactive elements, although some digressions from that path, such as the Little Bill Clinton series of blog posts, multimedia, and traditional reporting, have won critical praise.
One year after its March 2010 move online, the Monitor’s web traffic grew significantly, and its print circulation rose from 43,000 to 77,000, with 93 percent of its daily subscribers retaining its weekly edition. By 2014, it had about 50,000 subscribers to its weekly print magazine. The Monitor’s advertising revenue reportedly grew about 25% each year from 2011 to 2013.
The newspaper produces a daily PDF e-edition with shortened versions of stories. The edition was sent to about 2,000 subscribers via email as of March 2010 and about 10,000 subscribers in 2014. It also produced a weekly digital replica of its print edition for $4.99 per month.
The Sunlight Foundation is a nonpartisan, non-profit institution that seeks to achieve its mission of increased government transparency by funding and building web-based technologies. It was cofounded in 2006 by Ellen S. Miller, a longtime government employee and “advocate for disclosure of campaign finances,” and Michael Klein, a former securities lawyer who donated $3.5 million…