The Christian Science Monitor

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The Christian Science Monitor (CSM) is an international newspaper published daily, Monday through Friday. Started in 1908 by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist, the paper does not usually use wire services (such as the Associated Press or Reuters) and instead relies largely on its own reporters in bureaus in nineteen countries around the world. Many of the newspaper's staff editors and reporters are Christian Scientists, although membership in the church is not a requirement for employment.

Contents

Despite the name, the CSM is a newspaper that covers current events around the world, with a secular focus and writing style. The paper professes that its purpose is not an attempt to evangelize.[1] With the exception of a daily religious feature on the The Home Forum page, the content represents international and American news. Famous for its thoughtful treatment of the news, as opposed to the sensationalism which continues to be found in much of the mass media, CSM is highly respected and the recipient of several Pulitzer Prizes. The paper continues to further its founding declaration to bless all humankind by printing news that does no harm, elevating the spirits of all who read it, and thus contributing to the advancement of a world of peace and harmony.

History

Conception

The inception of the Christian Science Monitor newspaper was, in part, a response by Mary Baker Eddy to the journalism of her day, which relentlessly covered the sensations and scandals surrounding her new religion, the Church of Christ, Scientist, with varying degrees of accuracy. In addition, Mark Twain's blisteringly critical book Christian Science stung Eddy particularly, and according to many historians led Eddy to found her own media outlet.[1]

Eddy declared that the Monitor's mission should be "to injure no man, but to bless all mankind." The CSM was established to provide news as a public service, not to propagate doctrine. The basic theology of the Church of Christ, Scientist, says that what reaches and affects our thoughts shapes our experience. From this, it follows that a newspaper would have significant impact on the lives of those who read it. The newspaper, charged “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind,” was to have a "leavening" effect on society, as well as on individual lives.[1]

Since its founding, the paper has won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism seven times. It is particularly well known for its in-depth coverage of the Middle East, publishing material from veteran Middle East specialists like John K. Cooley.

The Monitor's international reputation was gained largely during the tenure of Erwin Canham as its editor. Canham served as managing editor and editor in chief from 1940-1964.[2]

The Monitor was originally published in broadsheet form but today it is published in tabloid format. The newspaper has struggled since the 1960s to enlarge its circulation and turn a profit. The church's directors and the manager of the Christian Science Publishing Society were purportedly forced to plan cutbacks and closures (later denied), which led in 1989 to the mass protest resignations by its famed editor Kay Fanning (an American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) president and former editor of the Anchorage Daily News), managing editor David Anable, associate editor David Winder, and several other newsroom staff. These developments presaged administrative moves to scale back the print newspaper in favor of expansions into radio, a glossy magazine, shortwave broadcasting, and television. Expenses, however, rapidly outpaced revenues, contradicting predictions by church directors. On the brink of bankruptcy, the board was forced to close the broadcast programs.

Modernization

The print edition of the Monitor continued to struggle for readership, and, in 2004, faced a renewed mandate from the church to turn a profit. The Monitor, more quickly than other newspapers, turned to the World Wide Web for its future. The Web offered the paper the opportunity to overcome the severe cost and logistical difficulties of mailing out a daily international newspaper. The Monitor was one of the first newspapers to put its text online (in 1996), and also one of the first to launch a PDF edition (in 2001). It was also an early pioneer of RSS feeds.

The website struggled to support itself with advertising, while the print edition has continued to lose money and has been forced to lay off staff. In 2005, Richard Bergenheim, a Christian Science practitioner, was named the new editor in a shakeup.

Editorial Stance

Despite its name, the Monitor was not established to be a religious-themed paper, nor does it directly promote the doctrine of its patron church. However, at its founder Eddy's request, a daily religious article has appeared in every issue in The Home Forum section. Eddy also required the inclusion of "Christian Science" in the paper's name, over initial opposition by some of her advisers who thought the religious reference might repel a secular audience.

Project Censored noted that the Monitor often publishes factual articles discussing topics under-represented or absent from the mainstream mass media. In comparison to other major newspapers and journalistic magazines, the Monitor tends to take a steady and slightly upbeat approach to national and world news. Many readers prefer the Monitor because it avoids sensationalism, particularly with respect to tragedies, and for its objectivity and integrity; at the same time, the paper's staff does operate under the close eye of the church's five-member board of directors, and has sometimes been seen as avoiding issues that involve the church in controversial and unfavorable ways.

Due to its church ownership, the "Monitor" largely avoids coverage about medicine, disease, and death; articles that discuss these topics are carefully vetted for language viewed as inappropriate or unnecessary per church doctrine. Obituaries typically do not mention the cause of death, and the ages of people in stories are rarely mentioned.

Notable Events

McCarthyism

During the "Red Scare" when Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy led an attack on purported communists in America, the Christian Science Monitor was one of a few mainstream newspapers that consistently criticized McCarthy's "witch-hunting" actions. The Monitor's stance is said to have stemmed from its credo to "injure no man, but to bless all mankind." This stance serves as a model of objectivity, or at least boldness stemming from America's freedom of the press.[3]

Reporter kidnapping

In 2006, Jill Carroll, a freelance reporter for the Monitor, was kidnapped in Baghdad, and released safely after 82 days. Although Carroll was initially a freelancer, the paper worked tirelessly for her release, even hiring her as a staff writer shortly after her abduction to ensure that she had financial benefits, according to Bergenheim, the editor.[4]

Beginning in August, 2006, the Christian Science Monitor published an 11-part account of Carroll's kidnapping and subsequent release, with first-person reporting from Carroll and others involved.[5]

Monitor Radio

Monitor Radio was a short-wave radio station operated by the Church of Christ, Scientist, between 1984 and 1997. It featured several one hour news broadcasts a day, as well as top of the hour news bulletins. The service was widely heard on public radio stations throughout the United States, as well as several shortwave transmitters. The service ceased operations on June 28, 1997.

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 About the Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  2. Erwin Canham Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  3. Lawrence N. Strout, Covering McCarthyism: How the Christian Science Monitor Handled Joseph R. McCarthy, 1950-1954 (Greenwood Press, 1999, ISBN 978-0313310911).
  4. "Carroll Reunited With Family in Boston," Associated Press, April 2, 2006 Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  5. Jill Carroll: 'From the beginning' The Christian Science Monitor..Retrieved January 21, 2008.

References

  • Canham, Erwin D. 1958. Commitment to freedom: The story of the Christian Science Monitor. Houghton Mifflin.
  • Pratte, Paul Alfred. 1995. Gods Within the Machine: A History of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, 1923-1993. Praeger Publishers. ISBN 978-0275949761
  • Strout, Lawrence N. 1999. Covering McCarthyism: How the Christian Science Monitor Handled Joseph R. McCarthy, 1950-1954. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0313310911

External links

All links retrieved May 17, 2013.

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