By paulgillin | November 7, 2008 - 2:08 pm - Posted in Fake News, Hyper-local

We caught up with Christian Science Monitor editor John Yemma today to see how the big shift from mostly print to mostly online is going. It’s going pretty well, Yemma said. Only about 15% of comments received have been negative and peers have mostly applauded the Monitor for making the bold move. We recorded the 10-minute conversation and present it below for your listening pleasure.

Now comes the hard part. In order to sustain the business in the long run and free it from an ongoing church subsidy, the Monitor needs to roughly quintuple traffic to That’s because the operation needs to shift from an economic model driven largely by revenue to one based on advertising. The bigger hurdles may be internal. With the likelihood of some staff reductions looming, Yemma needs to keep morale high while phasing in a new editorial model.

That new model was described in a panel discussion the previous evening as “perfection vs. good enough.” Publishers are oriented toward producing perfect products because it’s impossible to change them once they’re in the field. That means sweating a lot of details that take time and reduce potential impact. The Monitor and others are wrestling with finding the right balance between the legacy of perfection and the emerging culture of “good enough” reporting in which details – and that may include facts – aren’t always 100% right.

Ultimately, Yemma doesn’t see the Monitor as being a cutting-edge online publication as much as one that can lead its traditional audience smoothly into a new age. The demographics of the audience at the previous evening’s panel on The Future of Journalism were telling. Many of the attendees were over 60. That’s not surprising, as the average age of the traditional news media consumer creeps toward retirement. “We’re not on the cutting edge of new technology. We’re on the cutting edge of bring the mainstream along into this new world,” he said. We wish him luck.

Listen to the recording (10:12) Right-click and choose “save” to download



This entry was posted on Friday, November 7th, 2008 at 2:08 pm and is filed under Fake News, Hyper-local. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. November 7, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

    The rub: Everybody needs four times more readers … where they gonna come from?

    Posted by tom mangan
  2. November 9, 2008 @ 1:33 am

    “the Monitor needs to roughly quintuple traffic to”
    Is this a realistic growth projection? It seems that a targeted publication like the monitor
    would better be suited for a paid or partially paid online revenue model.

    Either way, when moving to an online only model, ALL newspapers need to roughly quintuple their online revenue to offset lost print revenues. The problem is that the current ad. revenue steams are not innovative enough to produce such a cash flow. For example, last year the NY Times generated $1.7Billion offline and $350million online.

    There is NO NEWS WEBSITE IN EXISTENCE with such a revenue stream. Newspapers need to innovate their online advertising model.


    Posted by Robert Ivan
  3. November 10, 2008 @ 3:30 am

    The Monitor published one of my photos from Burma when I was a freelance journalist. I’m interested to see how the publication changes it’s international coverage.

    Posted by Jessica