Our editor in chief on our marvellous readers, lessons learnt in lockdown and what’s ahead.
Let’s start this issue with a thank you. In fact, let’s make it a huge thank you, merci, danke schön, grazie, gracias, tack and arigato gozaimasu to our readers, listeners and viewers around the world who have been flooding us with the most wonderful letters of encouragement, feedback and gratitude. In a normal week there is a steady stream of correspondence from readers who want travel tips, listeners who want to us to add a live video stream from our radio studios (sorry, this will not be happening – it’s radio, not TV!) and the odd comment to agree or disagree with something we might have written. As these have been anything but normal weeks, the messages have been all sunshine and warmth, and it really makes a difference when we sit down to lay out pages or approach the mic to deliver a broadcast. From Nanaimo, British Columbia, across the Pacific to Sydney, from Norway’s high north to the nearby streets in Zürich, it’s clear that there is an informed, international monocle community who see the world in a similar way and understand what makes this little venture of ours tick.
The past few weeks have surely been the toughest since our debut in 2007. But we’ve moved swiftly to refocus our efforts and develop a plan to ensure that we can produce what’s expected of us – and then some. With air traffic suspended, borders closed and people in and out of self-quarantine, it’s not easy to pull together stories from all corners of the world. With supply chains equally unstable, it’s no simple to task to get trees to mills, reels of paper to printers, magazines into envelopes and then palettes onto aircraft. All that said, you now have this issue in hand, so the wheels of global logistics are functioning and we will continue to deliver. The Entrepreneurs special edition is already in the works; the June magazine is going into production and so too is our July/August double issue. Forthcoming editions will be more svelte as global ad budgets have taken a hit but our message is going to be even sharper and stronger as we feel that many of the themes we’ve long been championing are looking even more important.
As we shift towards a recovery-and-rebuilding phase, we want to be the source that asks some uncomfortable questions. Why did so many companies think that putting so much manufacturing in China was a good idea? Why have we let successive governments run down our healthcare systems? And why have we allowed so many cities to get away with such poor planning? At the same time we want to highlight the importance of spending within one’s own community, profile the entrepreneurs who have not only made it over the hump but are emerging stronger and identify those opportunities that now exist for buying or launching businesses.
There’s been a lot of talk about a radically different post-corona world and how it’s going to be all change moving forward. While I hope that many lessons are learnt, I also want much to go back to exactly the way it was. For sure, I hope that low-cost, unsustainable travel does not return. It would be good to see us rethinking our frontiers and how to protect them, and also how we manage tourism. Perhaps we’ll see a return to domestic travel and less reliance on emerging markets to fill our trains and populate our shops and restaurants. But I’m not in favour of a new digital future where we’re all on conference calls and it’s a workplace free-for-all. Yes, it’s been an interesting experiment trying to run a global company via phone and other digital add-ons but it’s not been fun. In fact, I’ve been in the office seven days a week and have had colleagues pop in and out. This most basic level of human contact has been crucial to maintaining high spirits and also to keeping a necessary level of metabolism across the business.
I’m also waiting for the moment that we throw open the doors of our shops and cafés so we can meet you again and finally start signing copies of our new Japan book, share a tingly g&t and get close rather than standing two metres apart. At the time of writing this we don’t have a set date for when life kicks back into gear in London, Zürich, Los Angeles or Toronto. But when it does you can be sure that there are going to be some very good parties – and we’ll be among the first inviting you round. Until then, keep listening to Monocle 24 and reading our daily newsletters (you can sign up at monocle.com/minute). And, as we do need your help to deliver our journalism in the absence of a strong ad market, we welcome you to subscribe at monocle.com/subscribe. Your extra generosity, humour and warmth has been most welcome this past month – for this we thank you. As ever, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I look forward to seeing you soon. Cheers and thank you for your support.