Wow: The Christian Science Monitor, a highly respected 100-year-old paper with a circulation a lot smaller than its reputation, just announced that it will stop printing issues for good in April of next year. It will continue to publish online only. In doing so, the paper essentially gives up the cost—and "prestige"—of its money-losing print edition in exchange for being able to hold onto more of its reporting staff, including several foreign bureaus. The CSM is by far the most important paper to take this step. Do you know that this means? That the CSM is very smart:

John Yemma, The Monitor’s editor, said that moving to the Web only will mean it can keep its eight foreign bureaus open while still lowering costs. “We have the luxury — the opportunity — of making a leap that most newspapers will have to make in the next five years,” Mr. Yemma said.

CSM is a nonprofit, meaning you can't exactly translate its business model to most other papers. And it will publish a Sunday print news digest. But its days of real print newspaper publishing are over. And the fact is that it's taking the big step that's staring many, many other papers in the face. Lots of publishers find web-only publishing to be an attractive option, but they haven't figured out how to make online ads pay well enough, and they haven't been able to wrap their minds around the idea of a newspaper without a print edition. Well, get ready. If the CSM succeeds, it will be the first of many. [NYT]