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The reach of The Christian Science Monitor is relatively small among news organizations. But the place CSM has in the lives of its audience is the envy of much larger media players. “We have a very solid, loyal base of readers who will follow us through fire,” notes CSM associate publisher David Grant. He emphasizes that CSM’s readers include both church members and a wide readership beyond it. “They get what we are trying to do. They have been with us for a long time, and they care.”
Circulation for CSM’s subscription-only weekly print magazine was 40,000 in late 2016, and, according to Quantcast, monthly unique visitors to CSMonitor.com have ranged between 3.3 million and 1.5 million thus far in 2017. Those sorts of numbers don’t typically command attention in the publishing industry. Still, for-profit newsrooms — big and small — should be fixed firmly on this 109-year-old news organization, as CSM moves away from programmatic advertising and sponsored content to focus entirely on the relationship between the publication and its audience.
This break from convention underscores a new reality of media — and, indeed, for business in general. Innovation is being led by non-traditional organizations. In the case of media, that is increasingly nonprofit organizations, rather than for-profit media brands. It is a trend for-profit media companies can learn from, if they are willing to collaborate with the nonprofits in unconventional ways.