Our editor in chief on what’s new in Monocle – and perhaps more importantly, the things that will remain resolutely the same.
Our new welcome-committee pages deliver our take on the month ahead, introduce you to one person’s extended support team (we’re off to Tromso this issue) and settle into a cosy corner to meet a player at ease – we have William Eggleston in focus this month. Your new Monocle starts here though with the view from the desk of our editor in chief.
You will have noticed there’s been quite a bit of demolition, engineering, landscaping and styling going on across the pages of monocle. No doubt you’ve glimpsed that we’ve played with typography and sizing on the front cover and have also tried out a new illustrator from a fresh stable of talent to highlight our story on the canine force that patrols, sniffs and identifies substances for the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) law-enforcement agency in the US.
You’ll also note that you’re currently sat in section ATF (At the Front), the first of four new sections we’ve added to the editorial mix. My monthly letter has moved from the back of the book to open this section (better to get in the opening line than having the last word, I reckoned) and across the following pages you’ll find observations and essays from our staffers around the world.
Our glossy Expo section now becomes a floating feature and is no longer anchored at the end of the book; it will now appear wherever we have a piece of reportage that deserves 16 glossy pages. As this issue ships off to press three weeks into the new US administration, we sent our Toronto bureau chief and former Washington resident Tomos Lewis to gauge the mood in the newsroom and on the studio floor of PBS Newshour in Arlington, Virginia. Could potential cuts or a complete funding halt to US public broadcasting turn into a blessing for producers, anchors and correspondents? Will viewers and listeners reach deeper into their pockets to ensure that there’s a well-backed independent voice to counter commercially funded rolling news outlets? On Capitol Hill and in the control room, Lewis found Newshour staffers getting on with the task at hand while keep an ear close to the DC rumour mill about the future of their organisation and liberal, in-depth journalism in general.
On a recent trip to Düsseldorf the publisher of a German daily paper asked how much the political jolts (and ensuing turbulence) in both London and Washington had altered our approach to newsgathering and our political position. “A narrower news agenda, where there’s more focus on fewer stories, opens up an opportunity,” I suggested. “In many ways it demands we stick to what we’ve done since launch and make sure we’re there to report from the places less covered, give space to subjects that are ignored and broaden the horizon for our readers, listeners and viewers.”
Over the following days I met with other editors in Berlin, Hamburg and Bangkok. By the time I returned to London I felt encouraged that our core mission of being a global briefing for those who like to crisscross borders, identify opportunities and delight in being fully informed has never been more appropriate, particularly for audiences in our two biggest markets: the US and UK.
It’s for this reason that we sent veteran journalist Christine Ockrent to sit down with Emmanuel Macron as he hit the campaign trail and dispatched our Hong Kong bureau chief James Chambers to Manila to report on Duterte’s reshaping of the Philippines. We also sent a host of correspondents to Portugal to deliver a 64-page special on the country’s bounce-back and future ambitions as not just a hub for manufacturing, education and technology but also a nation that balances work with surf, good wine, excellent architecture and a strong service culture.
As residency permits become increasingly scarce in some markets, other nations are working hard to attract talent (and their offspring) to cities that are keen on ambitious men and women who can ensure growth and maintain a superior quality of life. The evening before we put the final touches to this issue I sat down with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr in Munich to address the issues of national identity, a more confident Germany and the future of the service sector. Also in Business, our section editor Matt Alagiah went horizontal for his feature on the upstarts hoping to reinvent the way people sleep. After a tour across a booming sector he questions whether it’s marketing rather than innovation that’s seeing many dig deep for superior slumber.
In our Culture pages our man in Belgrade made his way to Prague to report on the Czech Republic’s orchestras for hire. Along the way in Design we report on some of the best-looking cow and goat housing in Mitteleuropa (far better than newbuild bungalows you might find in suburban Brisbane or Atlanta) – and after that it’s all change.
Section E is now Entertaining rather than Edits and will be curated to indulge all culinary and restaurant start-up fantasies. F was going to be finance but we decided sharp clothes would look better on page so it became Fashion. And to house all of our best discoveries in retail, hotels, publishing, homeware and more we have a 16-page Inventory section on some new German paper that we’re delighted to be premiering. Finally, as none of us is getting any younger, we’ve upped our point size for an easier read.
As ever we look forward to meeting you at an upcoming event and always welcome your tips and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for supporting 10 exceptional years of journalism.