Just over a century ago, in 1908, an 86-year-old woman looked at the dismal state of journalism around her and decided to do something to fix it. Mary Baker Eddy started the Christian Science Monitor not to further the doctrine of the church that she had founded, but because there was a need, as her first city editor John L. Wright put it, for a daily paper that would “place principle before dividends, and that will be fair, frank and honest with the people on all subjects and under whatever pressure — a truly independent voice not controlled by commercial and political monopolists.”
Today, you hear calls for the same improvements in the media, which has come to be dominated again by those “commercial and political monopolists.” And even worse, by the unsentimental and value-free dictates of their share prices. That’s why it is ironic and sad that this marks the final day that Eddy’s newspaper will exist, at least in its daily print form, as a publication “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind.” I have a copy of the final edition–at only 24 pages, a thin version of its former self–on my desk. (You can download it here, though it doesn’t quite feel the same.) I think that if Mary Baker Eddy were here today, she would tell us that somewhere out there is a business model that can sustain quality journalism. We all wish the Monitor well as it seeks to find that model in its new online incarnation.