Rolodexes packed with contacts, long discussions in late-night bars, people you meet in dark studios, tip-offs from long-time readers: it’s a network of valued sources that make this magazine come to life every month.
There are lots of good things about working at MONOCLE and perhaps top of the list are the people you meet. Every day people come to our offices, radio studios and events who have done extraordinary things, seen the best and worst of the world, changed lives, written funny books, launched everything from global brands and impassioned campaigns to neighbourhood bars. And they all have a story to tell.
This is the real privilege of being a journalist. You have a front-row seat on events – and you never want to give it up. Most of the time these incredible people leave the studio, the interview, the party and disappear from our world; well, at least until their next book, building or presidency gets announced. But some of them begin to weave a thread through our lives at MONOCLE (and our pages and shows). In fact, one of them reappears in this issue.
We first met the chef and food campaigner Kamal Mouzawak in Beirut when we went to the city to see our then correspondent Carole Corm. In no time he had persuaded us that it would be a wise idea to return within a few weeks to do a monocle event for our subscribers in the city and that he would organise all the catering and the venue. It was a very good party and in large part because of Mouzawak and his passion for bringing people together.
It’s a skill he uses for more important outcomes than keeping editors happy. For example, the food market he has established in Beirut unites producers from across all of Lebanon’s numerous cultural and religious fissures) and his restaurant Souk el Tayeb has the same healing impact on the sectarian city (he still has fun when pulling this off).
In spring this year we invited him to be on a panel at the Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Lisbon and his contribution – at times tinged with anger – about his work and homeland was a highlight. While in Lisbon he told us about a new project to restore derelict country houses and return them to new uses and if you want to see what this man is capable of – with his partner Rabih Kayrouz – then go to our Design Directory. It’s a lesson for us all in ambition, consistency and determination. It’s also a lesson in keeping in touch.
Friendships, contacts and a whirring Rolodex also help turn a good correspondent into a great one; they just know who to call. Take Ivan Carvalho, who has been our man in Milan since the launch of monocle and who, whenever we are in the city – or anywhere in Italy – we are always quizzing about everything from the state of the nation to where to have dinner (and he has all the answers). This month he headed to the Forst brewery in Merano for our Expo and then on to Turin for the Property Prospectus. And in both stories his reporting is enriched by people he has got to know over years of working with us. In Turin for example, his story pulls in designers and entrepreneurs that he first met years ago. It’s the same with Liam Aldous in Madrid (who also, by the way, has written our new guide book to the city); he did our story on Ubrique. Then we have Kimberly Bradley in Vienna, Nathalie Savaricas in Athens and many more.
There is a world of connections and friendships that underpins monocle and those links cross over to include our readers. And that’s why this month we are also running a new reader survey: we want to know you better. Please take the time to complete it as it will help us learn even more about what you like to read, watch and hear. And thank you as ever: we have known many of our readers since launch and you remain top of our list of important contacts.