As Monocle starts a new chapter in the form of a new German printing house, our editor in chief Tyler Brûlé looks back at his editorial schooling in Hamburg.
Do you ever pause, spin around and look back at your tracks? Do you occasionally run a quick inventory of all the jobs, relationships, trips, residences and experiences that were significant in your life? Is there a pattern? Is it a straight line with the odd bump here and there or is it more jagged, zig-zaggy and all over the place? As we signed off the last few pages for this 122nd issue, limbered up for our move to new presses in Lower Saxony and decided to celebrate this shift with a party in Hamburg, I realised I was heading back to the place that taught me most of what I know about being a journalist, magazine editor and all-round cheerleader of print.
There are many periods in the history of magazine publishing that can lay claim to being the sector’s golden age: the mahogany-lined offices of the Time-Life building in New York in the early 1970s; the pubs and restaurants around London’s Hanover Square in the early 1980s; and the art departments of Milan’s publishing houses a few years later. Hamburg was having its own golden moment in the early 1990s and from what I could glean from the pages of my favourite German titles (Tempo, Der Spiegel, Stern) there was more going on across the North Sean than in London. Armed with a black portfolio of stories I’d written for UK papers and magazines, I flew over to Hamburg and did my rounds of the publishing houses. I was impressed.
On the banks of the Elbe and around the city centre, impressive buildings were filled with journalists tapping away in airy offices with walk-out balconies. At lunch they were dining in canteens, with massive freighters gliding past in the background; after work they were clinking glasses in an on-site vintage Verner Panton lounge or a cosy restaurant in a leafy neighbourhood. Editors were happy to have me write in English and leave them to worry about the translation. Their travel offices would book flights and look after insurance for foreign assignments. Did I need a cash advance? Would D-Marks be okay? But of course. And would they be paying in D-Marks as well? Natürlich.
Hamburg was a perfect finishing school for not only learning about precision editing but also about how magazines function as brands, how newsrooms are built and what made this wealthy media city tick. I went on to launch my own projects back in London but Hamburg has always been lurking around as a source for talent, clients and sparring partners. Now it also serves as the closest hub to the print plant we’ll be using down the road in Wittingen.
And while we’re at the heart of the Hanseatic world, why not throw a party to celebrate not only this new “Gedruckt in Deutschland” edition but also launch our new Hamburg travel guide? If you’re a subscriber and in town on 21 March, let us know and we’ll happily host you; contact details at the bottom of this column.
As London continues to wrestle with economic uncertainty brought on by Brexit and its supporters, we’ve been looking at new ways to broaden our editorial and commercial reach. Within our existing network of bureaux we’re looking for upgrades and new staff, while also deciding where to set up next. Plus we’ve been working on a variety of new launches, tweaking publishing schedules and seeing where we can fill gaps on newsstands and screens.
Our latest addition to the line-up is our new Monocle Weekend Edition, which is both an extension of our Monday-to-Friday Monocle Minute and something of a slimline sibling to our seasonal newspapers. Delivered every Saturday morning, the Weekend Edition mixes long and breezy reads with opinion, reportage, tips and nudges from all corners of the world. If you’re not on the mailing list you can sign up at monocle.com/minute.
On paper, the first newspaper of the year will be devoted to the upcoming Salone del Mobile in Milan; this also ties in with a week-long series of daily broadcasts from the Tortona district, kicking off 9 April. This will be our biggest foray to date in Milan and we’ll have a host of editors and presenters on hand covering the design industry, while also anchoring regular programmes from a special broadcast set-up.
Shortly after that the team moves to Madrid for the fifth instalment of our Quality of Life Conference. We look forward to seeing our returning regulars alongside some new faces from the Iberian Peninsula and beyond (register your interest at conference.monocle.com).
If you’d like details on anything mentioned here, drop me (firstname.lastname@example.org), Hannah (email@example.com) or Luigi (firstname.lastname@example.org) an email. Cheers and thank you for your support.