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Our first century

A mandate to 'lighten' still drives the Monitor at the dawn of its second 100 years.

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One hundred years ago today, the first issue of The Christian Science Monitor thundered off presses in Boston's Back Bay.

So began a remarkable chapter in American journalism: a newspaper published by a church, aimed at a general rather than a denominational audience, and promising coverage that was global in scope and constructive in character.

It is a story rich in courage, devotion, and experimentation. In its first century, the Monitor would win seven Pulitzer Prizes for news coverage and cartooning, see three of its correspondents taken captive while on assignment, start two magazines, multiple radio programs and a cable-TV news channel, cycle through 14 editors, and print stories from a diverse group of writers – including Winston Churchill and Ralph Nader. All of this was done to deliver to families and political leaders journalism that illuminated the world's challenges in an effort to help humanity.

The Monitor's launch was mission-driven rather than market-driven. In the summer of 1908, Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Christian Science religion, ordered the startled officials of her church to "start a daily newspaper at once." Just over 100 days later, a professional news organization was in operation.

Mrs. Eddy was an inveterate clipper of newspaper articles and had written for several papers. She also knew the ugly side of the press firsthand, having been savaged by a journalistic and legal attack mounted by Joseph Pulitzer's sensational New York World.

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