Last year a Monitor reader called with a thought-provoking suggestion: How about producing an insert edition of The Christian Science Monitor for local newspapers each week?
After months of research and development, scores of discussions with local newspaper publishers and editors, and two prototypes, that idea soon will become a reality.
It's called MonitorWeek. This national news weekly for local newspapers will be a colorful 12-page, tabloid-size publication containing the best of the Monitor's articles from the previous week. It will consist of five pages of national and international news, two pages of features, a combined editorial/op-ed page, a one-page Home Forum section including a Monitor article offering a spiritual view of the news, and three pages of advertising.
The new publication will be launched in late January.
Local publishers and editors say the time is ripe for such a service. In recent years, many papers have increased their focus on local news and decreased their coverage of national and international news, a Monitor strength. They know that many of their most discerning readers still want penetrating coverage of world and domestic issues and are looking elsewhere to find it.
Some local papers, meanwhile, are looking for ways to enhance weekend editions, or simply want to add content of exceptional quality.
With MonitorWeek, they're telling us, they can give their readers depth, context, and understanding they can't get elsewhere, from one of the most respected names in the news business.
The idea is not entirely new. For many years, local papers have purchased the right to reprint individual Monitor articles by subscribing to The Christian Science Monitor News Service. We will continue this syndication service, which is purchased by papers with total circulation of 3.9 million.
With MonitorWeek, however, we will be offering a complete section for the first time. In the last few weeks, we've begun marketing the new edition to daily and weekly newspapers, and the response has been extremely strong. Already, we have commitments from three newspapers. Dozens of other papers, large and small, are actively considering it.
How fast will it grow, and how big will it get? It's difficult to say. We estimated several months ago that it might reach a half-million readers a week in its first year. Based on the early responses, that seems achievable. It seems possible that it could reach 1 million to 2 million households a week within a year or two.
MonitorWeek's pages will be prepared in the Monitor's newsroom. Local newspapers will download the pages electronically. They will print MonitorWeek on their own presses, using their own newsprint, and insert it into one day's edition of the local paper each week.
They will pay the Monitor for publication rights. Through these content fees and the sales of national advertising, we project that in a matter of months MonitorWeek will cover its costs and help sustain the daily paper.
The MonitorWeek package also includes an online edition, which local newspapers can offer on their own Web sites. Local publishers are enthusiastic because this will help their sites attract local readers. We're enthusiastic, too, because - through links on MonitorWeek's pages - those same readers will visit the Monitor's Web site (http://www.csmonitor.com).
MonitorWeek is sure to bring new readers to the daily Monitor. The most effective way to reach a wider audience is to let people try the Monitor experience for themselves. MonitorWeek, online and in print, will do that for many thousands of new readers each week.
Each issue will include an advertisement offering a trial subscription to the daily Monitor. But MonitorWeek itself will be available only through local newspapers - never by direct subscription. It will contain less than 10 percent of the editorial content of a week's Monitors - enough to whet the appetites of serious news readers and let them know where to get more.
Through MonitorWeek, The Christian Science Monitor's name and standard of journalism can be known and understood by millions of new people.
At this newspaper, founded by Mary Baker Eddy to bless all mankind, that prospect is cause for great rejoicing.
Stephen T. Gray Managing Publisher
David T. Cook Editor
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society