Is There an Audience for “Cheerful News”?

People often say they dislike the news because it’s so depressing. They want a happier, more constructive approach.

But when it comes to voting with their wallets, clicks, and remote controls, it’s usually the unhappy news that wins out. The 109-year-old Christian Science Monitor, a storied publication with a strong tradition of independent journalism, wants to find out if there are enough people willing to pay for “less depressing” news.

To that end, CSM’s editor, Marshall Ingwerson, told Nieman Lab that CSM wants a voice that is “calm and fact-based and fundamentally constructive, and assumes that our readers are looking to have a fundamentally constructive approach to the news.”

“We want to look at the news in a way that has fact-based integrity, but creates a legitimate sense of possibility,” said Ingwerson, “so that, as much as possible, it’s an empowering and not a depressing experience to read the news.”

CSM means business. Eight years ago, the publication shut down its daily print edition and shifted to a web-first product. Online traffic climbed through 2012, then stalled. The new approach ultimately may be what carries the publication to its next phase of profitability.

As print advertising revenue dries up, many publications have been relying more on subscriptions. This experiment by the Monitor may serve as a bellwether for others.

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