Andrew Tuck explains why the beginning of autumn presents an opportunity to put ideas into action – and how Monocle has done just that. So don’t be deterred that long summer days are coming to an end; now is the time to tick off that to-do list. Let’s get going.
There’s something about October, especially in the northern hemisphere. It’s the month when summer has truly gone and the temperatures drop. And with that usually comes a sense of greater clarity; of work or studies taking over your thoughts again. So while packing away the beach towels might not be fun, it’s a time when you can get things done. A time to put into action plans that were scribbled in notebooks or on the backs of restaurant menus during holidays at the beach or hiking in the hills. And that’s the same feeling we get at monocle too.
Across the summer we’ve been sharing ideas between our Zürich and London HQs about a meaningful but gentle remake of the magazine that would enable us to stay looking our best and reflect some of the things that have happened to the world – and monocle – over the past 18 months. Because it’s been a time that has made many businesses consider what they want to do, what they want to stand for; us included.
We’ve found, for example, that the measured common-sense opinions delivered in our newsletters and on Monocle 24 have gained us new readers and listeners over recent months. We have seen that monocle can still be a place of genuine debate that doesn’t turn into a Twitter spat; while people disagree with some of our guests on the radio, or even with our editors, the correspondence that follows is usually considered and engaged. And you know you are doing something right when, on the same day, your inbox contains missives telling you that you are both too tough and too gentle on the Biden administration. And as newsrooms around the world go virtual and reporters stay in their bedrooms, we have seen a flourishing demand for more expansive, on-the-ground reporting.
In discussions with Tyler Brûlé, Richard Spencer Powell, our creative director, and all our editors, we felt a need to look at how we could reflect all of this on page. And the outcome is in your hands. Of course, we will let you explore and see how you like the new look but a few pointers from me before you head off through the pages. We have introduced a new Agenda section at the front of the magazine where we can run comments and columns on more diverse topics and bring together the former Briefing pages in one place. In turn, this frees up space for longer reports, such as Charlie Faulkner’s incredible diary from Afghanistan (page 61) and our long read on Veja (page 177), the trainer brand that has got to the head of the pack by trying to do the right thing for staff and suppliers at every step but which is wise to know the limitations it faces.
And to capture the hunger for honest conversations, we have introduced a new feature, The Debate (page 79), which this issue features a group of passionate Aussies discussing the nation’s coronavirus strategy and whether it has shown the country in an unfavourable light on the world stage and thrown a focus on some of the country’s less comfortable traits back home.
Ten years ago, October was also the month that we chose to launch our own radio station and podcast service, Monocle 24. It’s incredible to see how the station has become such a part of people’s lives and such a commercial success as well, thanks to the incredible brands that understand the power of audio. So this issue also features a celebration of all the team’s hard work (page 129) as we look back at just a few of the highlights on air.
There are many more things to discover in this issue but at the heart of everything we do are still the commitments that we made on day one of monocle: to go out into the world and report from on the ground; to not follow the global media pack; to find our own course through the challenges of running a media company; to be open and accessible to our readers; and to make a magazine that celebrates the craft of print. Those things will never change.
If you want to drop me a note about Monocle, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And here’s wishing you good luck with all of your plans to change things this season.