After a century of continuous publication, The Christian Science Monitor will abandon its weekday print edition and appear online only, its publisher announced Tuesday. The cost-cutting measure makes The Monitor the first national newspaper to largely give up on print.
As an unreconstructed reader of newspapers in their physical form (notwithstanding this blog), this looks like a dangerous move. RSS reader/consolidators are nice and all, but the information access model is simply not the same as the one that I use when I read an actual paper. There’s room for a lot of improvement in the tools for online access, and it seems to me that this is where the print media in general should be looking — not just gambling that clickstream revenue is going to shore up their businesses.
And let me also point out that newspapers are also probably mistakenly laying all of their woes at the feet of the Internet.
For example, I used to get The Boston Globe delivered to my house daily. It would arrive before 6AM, in time for me to grab it on the way to work. Then, roughly a year ago, it would, on occasion, arrive later in the morning — after I had left my home.
Moreover, despite the Internet-based subscriber services tools, I started coming home from business trips to piles of papers on my door step, saved from the untoward attentions of house thieves only by the intervention of the local US Postal Service, whose deliveryperson helpfully shoved most of them through the door slot with the mail.
Finally, I gave up and, though I wanted papers delivered on the weekends only, found that my only options were (a) daily, (b) Thursday through Sunday, or (c) Sunday only subscriptions. So, I went to Sunday only — and have never gotten a single inquiry from The Globe about my reasons for the change.
Because of the change in my subscription, I buy the Globe from their machines around town. Except that, increasingly, the boxes are not filled with the daily paper until AFTER 7AM — by which time I am already at my desk.
So, it seems to me that the newspaper business has more to work on than just figuring out how to make money online. Cost cutting has clearly led to the outsourcing of delivery to cheap hacks, and their inconsistency is undermining one of the key plusses of physical delivery.