Can it still be called a newspaper if it's doesn't appear on paper?

It’s happening.

In a startling revelation this morning, the Christian Science Monitor announced it will abandon its print publication and resort to publishing exclusively on the Web in April.

Coverage:


My immediate reaction? Surprised at the timing, not the conclusion. Nor do I think this is necessarily a signal of things to come in the next year or so.

The Christian Science Monitor is rather niche in its nature. I have long appreciated the foreign coverage it provides, but the publication is nonprofit, so one wonders how relevant its strategic decisions are to its profit-driven counterparts.

Although the publishing industry is technically declining, it is still wildly profitable. And I suspect most news organizations will not be forced to abandon print in the near future.

One question this raises for me: IF this decision DOES signal a trend (which I do not suspect at the moment), how would this trend call researchers to reevaluate the Digital Divide literature? If a large portion of our population do not have access to the Internet because of physical location or because they can’t afford it, what will it mean for democracy if we see print organizations move to the Web?

I have a thousand questions rattling in my brain, but I have to go teach class. Perhaps more later.

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