THE BLOG
03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Purity, Integrity, Inspiration: Possible in 2009 News Online?

"Amazon Tribe Finds Jet Crash Survivors"
"Reward Bus Trip Turns Deadly in China"
"Soon-to-be Graduate Deported to Gaza"
"Navy Accidentally Fires on Polish Port"
"Pirates Demand $7M for Yacht Couple"
"Sex Offenders Monitored at Halloween"
"6 Bodies Found; Convicted Rapist Sought"
"Iran Undermines Heart of Western Nuclear Offer"
"Racy MySpace Pics Spark School Lawsuit"
"Lawsuits Filed Over Sweat Lodge Deaths"

These are actual headlines taken from online news sites on October 31st 2009.

Craig Newmark's recent Huff Post blog, "A Nerd's Take On The Future Of News Media" put forth the following:

Trust is the new black, as I like to say. The great opportunity for news organizations is to constructively demonstrate trustworthy reporting, and to visibly do so.

And then there's Michael Hirschorn's recent piece, "End Times":

If you're hearing few howls and seeing little rending of garments over the impending death of institutional, high-quality journalism, it's because the public at large has been trained to undervalue journalists and journalism. The Internet has donemuch to encourage lazy news consumption, while virtually eradicating the meaningful distinctions among newspaper brands.

There's one model that's actually working quite well. In 2009, the Christian Science Monitor, a 100 year-old news organization, became the first nationally circulated newspaper to replace its daily print edition with its website.

Exactly one year ago today, PC World's Brennon Slattery commented on the transition:

For years, the newspaper industry has declined in profit and subscriptions, as newsmongers more often than not log onto the Internet to get their daily fix. In the era of RSS feeds and constantly updating blogs, physical newspapers are hard pressed to compete against the sheer volume of material and wide range of sources. By mid-afternoon, most print dailies are old news.

With its decision to go online-only, the Monitor not only stabilizes its finances -- allowing better funding for journalism abroad -- but it also enters its second century at the forefront of the digital revolution. This move may be seen to some as the Internet "killing" a venerable, century-old publication. To me, it's the evolution of modern journalism; a logical and progressive step in the direction many more will approach in the years to come.

It's important to briefly consider the history of the Monitor. It's 1907, and an 86 year old New England woman, Mary Baker Eddy, has published a book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which sets forth unconventional religious ideas. The book becomes a bestseller. Eddy, a teacher, author, and preacher, becomes a public figure - and a target of Joseph Pulitzer's New York World. Yellow journalism was rampant at this time.

The New York World proclaims Eddy is incapable of managing her own affairs and convinces close friends and family to sue for control of her estate. Boston and New Hampshire newspapers and major wire services interview Eddy and find her competent, but Pulitzer is unrelenting. Eddy is taken to court -- and the case against her is dropped. The next year, 1908, Mary Baker Eddy founds the Christian Science Monitor with the mandate: 'To injure no man, but to bless all mankind.'

Mrs. Eddy had been thinking about the quality of journalism for many years. 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.

And thus was founded the Christian Science Monitor, a publication that would provide "short articles for busy people," as Mrs. Eddy put it.

Joseph Pulitzer went on to endow the Pulitzer Prize for journalistic excellence. The Monitor has won seven Pulitzer Prizes.

Recent highlights from the past year's transition to online from the CSMonitor.com:

About 2.5 million unique people visit CSMonitor.com each month. Website traffic is up, on average, 30% since last year. Our journalists now publish news at all hours of the day. The Monitor weekly magazine has 67,000 paid subscribers. That's a 55% increase from the 43,000 daily-edition subscribers in April. The Daily News Briefing has 1,800 paid subscribers. This printable digital subscription edition is outperforming expectations by 50%. 6,800 Facebook fans (up from just 1,000 in January) engage in lively conversations on big topics.

Confident confrontation; elevation of thought; honest intent.
Purity, Integrity, Inspiration: Possible in 2009 News Online?
It's already here.

For more about Mary Baker Eddy:www.marybakereddylibrary.org.