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CSM's John Yemma on how to be successful with online journalism

CSM's John Yemma on how to be successful with online journalism

John Yemma, editor of the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), believes in the power of online journalism. The daily edition of the newspaper was dropped in March 2009 to focus on its website and a weekly print product, and a daily news briefing via email. The daily print edition had been losing money and tying up human resources, Yemma said. In his opinion, the decline of the print media is partly generational as young people prefer to read content online.

According to Yemma, his newspaper has improved because of its fundamental change. The web traffic had tripled since dropping the print product, he said. Weekly subscriptions have increased from 43 000 in March 2009 to now 70 000. The daily news briefing is also successful in terms of numbers as "is not a very expensive product to produce", Yemma said. The mottos of the medium were "Grow the network, not the staff", and "Aggregate, don't acquire".

The CSM had had the same goal for 102 years, Yemma pointed out. This was, for example, to report in a thoughtful, balanced and non-sensational way. "We focus on difference-makers, problem solvers and solution seekers."

The medium planned to survive by understanding its audience and by diligently build loyality, Yemma said. Its goal was to provide global news and analysis on a sustainable basis. In order to create paths for deeper engagement, the medium should always expand the knowledge of its audience and flex with new user interests, Yemma explained.

However, the media industry has not yet come up with a consistent model and one that could allow online content to sustain quality journalism, Yemma said. "We are all still struggling with different models."



Christine Cornelius


2010-10-06 20:19

The World Editors Forum is the organization within the World Association of Newspapers devoted to newspaper editors worldwide. The Editors Weblog (www.editorsweblog.org), launched in January 2004, is a WEF initiative designed to facilitate the diffusion of information relevant to newspapers and their editors.

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