Melanie Stetson Freeman
The Christian Science Monitor is an international news organization that delivers thoughtful, global coverage via its website, weekly magazine, daily news briefing, email newsletters, and mobile site.
The Monitor is global, both in practice and in spirit.
In an era when the mainstream media has narrowed its lens, we're convinced readers yearn for the opposite. This global perspective comes naturally; the Monitor's founder, Mary Baker Eddy, explained our mission this way: "To injure no man, but to bless all mankind."
While we may not land on the doorstep or in the inbox of all mankind (though we’d like to), our aim is to embrace the human family, shedding light and understanding with the conviction that truth is the beginning of solutions. This conviction has served our readers and story subjects well over the years, winning us seven Pulitzer Prizes and more than a dozen Overseas Press Club awards.
Mrs. Eddy's statement contains another distinguishing feature. The purpose of our journalism is to "bless" not "injure." That is central to how we cover the news:
We're also free to be an independent voice, devoid of the corporate allegiances and pressures that critics say too often skew today's media.
Join us for a daily distillation of a changing world - your world. We'd love to have you come along. And please let us know what you think.separator
Is the Monitor a religious publication?
No, it’s a real news organization owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass., USA. Everything in the Monitor is international and US news and features, except for one religious article in the weekly magazine and Daily News Briefing – a version of which has appeared each day since 1908, at the request of the Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy.
In an age of corporate conglomerates dominating the news media, the Monitor’s combination of church ownership, public-service mission, and commitment to covering the world (not to mention the fact that it was founded by a woman shortly after the turn of the 20th century, when US women didn’t yet have the vote!) gives the Monitor a uniquely independent voice in journalism.
How does the Monitor compare to other media outlets covering international news?
Unlike most US news organizations, the Monitor does not rely primarily on wire services, like AP and Reuters, for its international coverage. We have writers based in 11 countries, including Russia, China, France, the UK, South Africa, Mexico, and India, as well as throughout the US.
Why does the Christian Science church own a news organization?
One answer might be found in a story the Monitor’s Washington bureau chief, David Cook, related in a talk several years ago:
"Consider this case. It is 1907. An elderly New England woman finds herself being targeted by Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World. She is 86 years old and holds some unconventional religious beliefs that she expounds in a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. The book becomes a bestseller, making her wealthy and a well-known public figure.
The New York World decides she is incapable of managing her own affairs and persuades some of her friends and her two sons to sue for control of her estate. Although Boston and New Hampshire newspapers and major wire services interview this woman and find her competent, the New York World is unrelenting. The lady in question finally is taken to court where the case against her is dropped.
Given her experience with the press, it is not all that surprising that she sets as the Monitor’s goal 'to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.' In one of life’s little ironies, Joseph Pulitzer went on to endow the Pulitzer prizes for journalistic excellence.
Mrs. Eddy had been thinking about a newspaper for a long time before 1907. Way back in 1883 she wrote: 'Looking over the newspapers of the day, one naturally reflects that it is dangerous to live, so loaded with disease seems the very air. These descriptions carry fears to many minds, to be depicted in some future time upon the body. A periodical of our own will counteract to some extent this public nuisance; for through our paper we shall be able to reach many homes with healing, purifying thought.'
There were many more letters and messages to church members from Mrs. Eddy on the subject between then and the New York World case. Then an interesting coincidence occurred in March 1908, eight months before the paper’s launch: Mrs. Eddy received a long letter from a local journalist and Christian Scientist, John L. Wright. In it, he told her he felt there was a growing need for a daily newspaper that 'will place principle before dividends, and that will be fair, frank and honest with the people on all subjects and under whatever pressure' — a truly independent voice not controlled by 'commercial and political monopolists.'"
Wright certainly got the idea. (A few months later he left the Boston Globe to become the Monitor’s first city editor.) His was among 1,000 job applications the Monitor’s first editor, Archibald McLellan, received prior to launch.
Does the Monitor have an agenda?
We are not about promoting any specific set of policies, actions or ideologies. The founder of the Monitor was convinced that what reaches and affects thought shapes experience. News, therefore, should be trustworthy, sober, and humane. We seek to give our diverse range of readers the information they need to come to their own constructive conclusions.
Then if the Monitor's news is basically secular and for everybody, why is "Christian Science" in its name?
It's about honesty and purpose. We do not hide the fact that the Christian Science church has stood behind this publication for more than 100 years. While some might argue that not having those words would give it wider appeal, to remove them would mislead people about the organization that supports the Monitor. Eddy knew this from the outset. She insisted, against strong opposition from some of her advisers and church officers, that the words “Christian Science” should be in the paper’s name.
According to one of her biographers, Robert Peel, to Mrs. Eddy, "the designated title was an identification of the paper with the promise that no human situation was beyond healing or rectification if approached with sufficient understanding of man’s God-given potentialities. Nor did the "good news" of Christianity involve the prettification of bad news, but rather, its confident confrontation" (witness Monitor correspondent David Rohde’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting in 1995 on alleged massacres by Bosnian Serb forces).
Do church leaders determine or influence the Monitor’s editorial content?
The Board of Directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, has oversight over Monitor editorials and editorial cartoons, but rarely changes copy. The board selects the Monitor’s editor, whose staff chooses stories they feel are most appropriate on a daily basis.
Why doesn’t the Monitor endorse political candidates?
The Monitor’s editors believe readers should decide for themselves who is best qualified for public office. Through our extensive political coverage from Capitol Hill and in races around the country, we strive to provide all the information necessary for voters to make political decisions most appropriate for them, their communities, and the nation, whether choosing a local candidate or the next president of the United States.
How would I find out more about the Monitor’s founder and Christian Science?
Visit www.christianscience.com for information about Christian Science and our publisher, The First Church of Christ, Scientist.
For more about Mary Baker Eddy, the pioneering woman who founded the Monitor, see The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity at www.marybakereddylibrary.org.
At www.spirituality.com you can learn more about Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the premier work by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy. You’ll also find articles, discussions, and events showing how people are using spiritual ideas in their daily lives.
For more information about The Christian Science Monitor, please e-mail us.
Some of the material for this FAQ was drawn from "Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Authority," by Robert Peel (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York: 1977), and "Commitment to Freedom: The Story of The Christian Science Monitor," by Erwin D. Canham (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston: 1958).