By Laurent Belsie, writer of The Christian Science Monitor
The Christian Science Monitor
After a decade on radio and nearly nine decades in newsprint, The Christian Science Monitor is expanding its reach to cyberspace.
Starting yesterday, the contents of this newspaper and Monitor Radio broadcasts became available on the graphical part of the Internet, known as the World Wide Web.
The site combines text, images, and sound. With a properly equipped computer, users will be able to listen to Monitor Radio broadcasts over the Internet. If they access the site at the top of the hour, they can hear Monitor Radio's hourly news update as it's happening. "As far as we know, we're the first to offer real-time audio news that's of a general interest nature," says Anne Collier, editor of the Electronic Edition of The Christian Science Monitor.
Other highlights of the electronic edition include: an interactive crossword puzzle, various Internet-related forums where readers can share ideas, and a searchable archive of Monitor articles from 1980 to the present.
The electronic edition is free to all Internet users for a limited time. Eventually, the staff expects to begin charging for at least some of the site's premium features, such as the Monitor archive and the interactive crossword. Those charges, combined with revenue from advertisers, are designed to make the venture self-supporting, says Miles Harbur, chief operating officer of the Publishing Society.
"We're doing this to broaden the outreach of The Christian Science Monitor," says David Cook, the Monitor's editor. "The e-Monitor should especially appeal to students, many of whom already rely on the Web for news, and Monitor subscribers who live in areas where daily delivery is difficult or impossible."
Most major newspapers are offering sites on the Internet. According to Editor and Publisher magazine 881 papers now have such sites. The Monitor site is being done "very frugally," Mr. Cook says. By relying largely on the content already available for the newspaper and radio, the venture has become operational with a small full-time staff.
One challenge all on-line newspapers face is whether their electronic editions will draw away subscribers from the newspaper. …