Most helpful critical review
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Well-Balanced News Analysis If One Receives It!
on March 25, 2011
Edited: Aug. 20, 2011. I have been enjoying the CSM on my Kindle for some time but have lately found it very disappointing. For the past several days, I received only two or three articles each day, and these were weekdays not the weekend. Those articles were interesting, but I canceled my subscription. Why pay for news I am not receiving?! My below review pertains to my past experience with the paper, not to my current experience. I have changed the title of my review to reflect my present feelings and changed my rating from the four stars I originally gave it to the two stars (really one-and-a-half stars!) I would give it today because of its failure to send enough articles to justify the price. Here is my original review:
For those wanting to read The Christian Science Monitor on their easy-on-the-eyes Kindle, this subscription has its pros and cons, but the pros outweigh the cons for me.
It is true that the Monitor's own website, which I frequently scan, has a lot of content which does not download as part of the subscription and that the number of articles which does download varies. Because the CSM does not publish much on the weekend, few articles download on Sunday and Monday. On the other hand, about 30 articles download Tuesday through Saturday.
The daily World and USA sections form the heart of the subscription. The numerous articles in each, some of which display a photo, provide excellent news analysis because they present more than one point of view about the situation being discussed, a great strength of the CSM, which is known for its balanced reporting. The Monitor saves its own viewpoints for the weekday Commentary section, which also presents those of contributors representing different areas of expertise. Indeed, reading the CSM for a while has left me feeling well-informed about world and national issues, not only about what is happening but also about "why," "how," and "what may come next."
Some Kindle readers, however, might opt, as I have been doing, to combine the CSM with a daily "latest news" blog having an updating feed because each morning's CSM download will not update and will include only what is on the Monitor's website before the download occurs. Thus, each morning's download inevitably brings yesterday's articles. On the day after it had already landed, I received an article about the landing of the space shuttle Discovery. It appeared on the same download as an even older one titled "When Is the Space Shuttle Discovery Set to Land?"
Fortunately, most articles, which are written by the Monitor's own staff writers and correspondents positioned around the world, focus on the implications of an event--what may have led to it, what may follow, how it connects to other situations and broader issues. In this way, even yesterday's news articles often bring new insights.
Whenever the Science, Environment, or Innovation section downloads, I always enjoy its articles. I skim the weekday Business section and particularly look forward to the weekday Books section. As well as an extremely brief piece by a Monitor reader who names a recommended title, it usually includes a longer, more satisfying review by a contributor who puts me in touch with a work I otherwise might have missed. (The emphasis has been on non-fiction and biography.) Appearing, too, in this section each week is a list of the bestselling books of that week according to IndieBound, and on notable dates, such as the Ides of March or St. Patrick's Day, a reviewer recommends several books relevant to the date, a nice feature.
Another favorite section, The Culture, usually contains two or more articles and downloads frequently. As somebody interested in the arts, I especially appreciate the occasional pieces focused on music, dance, art or drama. I wish there were more because they give insights I do not find elsewhere. Movie reviews turn up each week, and a poem occasionally appears, though Kindle does not usually format it well. The Culture sometimes includes a story about a person making a difference or about a person's memorable experience, such as a recent piece about an encounter between two women during a train ride across Turkmenistan. While the CSM is not a religious publication, this section frequently includes an article about an event, often one in the news, discussed from a Christian Science perspective. I belong to a different denomination but still like reading it.
All in all, I have been enjoying this CSM subscription. I do supplement it with a "latest news" blog having an updating feed (which is also nice to have on the days when the Monitor downloads less content), and with other material related to my own interests. However, in spite of a few drawbacks, the subscription offers much to those who want the CSM on their kind-to-the-eyes, transportable Kindles. I particularly value the Monitor's independence from any large corporations, its emphasis on the positive, and its non-sensational, non-celebrity-driven, well-balanced coverage of the news.