The Christian Science Monitor has just become the first national newspaper to throw in the towel, er, newsprint and switch from a daily print publication to a continously updated online edition beginning April 2009:
The changes at the Monitor will include enhancing the content on CSMonitor.com, starting weekly print and daily e-mail editions, and discontinuing the current daily print format… This new, multiplatform strategy for the Monitor will “secure and enlarge the Monitor’s role in its second century,” said Mary Trammell, editor in chief of The Christian Science Publishing Society and a member of the Christian Science Board of Directors.
Continuing the spin, their board chairman insists that, while the Monitor’s print circulation, which is primarily delivered by U.S. mail, has trended downward for nearly 40 years, “looking forward, the Monitor’s Web readership clearly shows promise.” But the story admitted that a “‘modest reduction’ in the Monitor’s 95-person editorial staff is likely, once the transition to the new product line-up is completed.” (Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. It still means people will lose their jobs…)
This news comes right on the heels of The Salt Lake Tribune’s admission that it is bleeding readership (instead of just having a bleeding-heart readership — Sorry, I couldn’t resist).
I’m not sure what I think of this on-going development. While I am a former small-town newspaper journalist (the smell of ink and paper in a print shop is still pretty evocative for me), I admit that I rarely pick one up anymore. I spend the first hour at work looking over all the local news Websites (job-related, believe me), but the office still has a print subscription to the Wall Street Journal, so I do spend a little time looking through it. But I find, more and more, I prefer the immediacy of the Web versions. I’d rather scan headlines on a small screen than on a large page. And with my new iPhone, I find I can tolerate ever-smaller screens.
Two of the key issues here, of course, are the decreased costs and the incredible immediacy of the Web. Why pay for a print subscription when the milk’s free? Thanks to 9/11, I have three news sources sending me news updates daily, and the Web sites are always evolving. No stale news here. News reporters now have to face the blank screen of terror 24-7.
Once again, we midlifers are sandwiched in all these developments. Mother, in all her 92 years, never even turned on a computer, and I would be surprised if The Goons my sons ever read anything on paper, even books, more’s the pity. (I was NOT a Good Mom. I didn’t read to them often enough. They wouldn’t sit still!) And they are so accustomed to communicating with their friends/colleagues/ teachers/employers/EVERYBODY online or by text message that words on paper aren’t a part of their experience in the way they are part of mine.
Mark my very words, I’m looking forward to the day when we have clip-ons to our glasses (or some such device) that, with the nod of the head, will instantly and holographic-ly attach us to the Web, or whatever it evolves into. Or (shudder) we’ll have something embedded in our heads!
I’m almost ready (she said, nodding).