Deal or no deal?

By ADAM REILLY  |  May 15, 2009

Rising again
Amid all the attention that's been lavished on the Globe's possible death, the birth of another Boston publication has gone virtually unnoticed. I'm referring to the Christian Science Monitor's new weekly edition, which began rolling off the presses in early April, at a time when print's future doesn't exactly seem bright.

It's hard to say whether the reconfigured Monitor — which came into being when the paper's leadership decided last fall to cease weekday publication and refocus online — should be called a newspaper or a magazine. Either way, it's an aesthetic success: tabloid-size and enticingly hefty, printed on 48 pages of matte stock that make the photos inside jump into the reader's lap. The one-page reports from abroad that fill the front of the book have a distinctly Economist feel, in terms of both layout and prose; in contrast, the cover stories get more real estate and funkier presentation.

So what's the new Monitor's rationale? Design director John Kehe casts it as a sort of throwback, aimed at long-time Monitor subscribers who aren't comfortable getting their news online. "That's one of the reasons we created this," says Kehe. "And since we're taking away a lot of readers' daily paper, we felt like, in print, we needed to give them much of the familiar."

But this conservatism isn't absolute. While certain sections made the jump from the daily to the weekly (like Home Forum, a slightly dowdy compendium of lighter news), others are brand new (e.g., Dispatches, an assortment of idiosyncratic foreign-news briefs, and In Pictures, a lavish, two-page spread of Monitor photography from around the world).

Which brings us to the aspirations of Clayton Collins, the editor of the Monitor's weekly edition. Collins wants the publication to become essential reading for people with a passion for global news. He also describes it as a testament to the enduring appeal of print — whatever age its readers happen to be.

"It feels good to be minting something that's ink on paper," Collins tells the Phoenix. "The Monitor was founded 100 years ago as an alternative — an antidote, really — to what was going on in journalism at the time. I won't say the Monitor weekly is today's anti-Twitter, because blogging and micro-blogging, done right, have emerged as a legit platform for news. But I do think there's also a place for print."

Reader response, it seems, has been generally positive. Top Monitor editor John Yemma says via e-mail that he's received about 10 times more favorable than unfavorable letters and e-mails from long-time subscribers — and that 92 percent of daily print subscribers have re-upped for the weekly, well above the initial goal of 80 percent.

"On the strength of pre-launch marketing," Yemma adds, "we got more than 5000 new subscriptions. So we started our weekly with about 45,000 circulation, and the folks in circulation say we are getting several hundred new subscriptions per week."

Some of that growth may be attributable to the publicity surrounding the Monitor's path-breaking daily-to-weekly jump. Still, for a newspaper to actually add subscribers these days is no mean feat. If it continues, don't be surprised if the weekly Monitor becomes a case study for dailies that want to scale back their print presence, but aren't quite ready to jettison it entirely.

< prev  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |   next >
Related: Bad sports, Red all over, Brave new Globe?, More more >
  Topics: Media -- Dont Quote Me , Internet, Boston Newspaper Guild, Boston Newspaper Guild,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY ADAM REILLY
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   BULLY FOR BU!  |  March 12, 2010
    After six years at the Phoenix , I recently got my first pre-emptive libel threat. It came, most unexpectedly, from an investigative reporter. And beyond the fact that this struck me as a blatant attempt at intimidation, it demonstrated how tricky journalism's new, collaboration-driven future could be.
  •   STOP THE QUINN-SANITY!  |  March 03, 2010
    The year is still young, but when the time comes to look back at 2010's media lowlights, the embarrassing demise of Sally Quinn's Washington Post column, "The Party," will almost certainly rank near the top of the list.
  •   RIGHT CLICK  |  February 19, 2010
    Back in February 2007, a few months after a political neophyte named Deval Patrick cruised to victory in the Massachusetts governor's race with help from a political blog named Blue Mass Group (BMG) — which whipped up pro-Patrick sentiment while aggressively rebutting the governor-to-be's critics — I sized up a recent conservative entry in the local blogosphere.
  •   RANSOM NOTES  |  February 12, 2010
    While reporting from Afghanistan two years ago, David Rohde became, for the second time in his career, an unwilling participant rather than an observer. On October 29, 1995, Rohde had been arrested by Bosnian Serbs. And then in November 2008, Rohde and two Afghan colleagues were en route to an interview with a Taliban commander when they were kidnapped.
  •   POOR RECEPTION  |  February 08, 2010
    The right loves to rant against the "liberal-media elite," but there's one key media sector where the conservative id reigns supreme: talk radio.

 See all articles by: ADAM REILLY