Monday. 3/8/2020

The Monocle Minute

Opinion / Ed Stocker

Making the news

A newspaper launch is always a tantalising prospect. With all the doom and gloom around the state of the daily printed press, it feels like a bold and refreshingly contrarian move to make the step to invest in a quality media venture – especially off the back of a global pandemic. But offering something different to the market does work. Just look to Archant’s The New European newspaper. Intended as a short-term pop-up in response to the UK’s Brexit referendum, it continues to print today and shifts a remarkably healthy number of weekly units (even while looking for a new owner).

All of which should embolden Italy’s new daily, Domani, set to launch from its Rome headquarters in September. The creation of businessman Carlo De Benedetti (pictured) – ex-president of the group behind La Repubblica – it is intended to be Italy’s liberal newspaper of choice in a media landscape that, according to incoming Domani director Stefano Feltri, has shifted too far to the centre. But regardless of your political affiliations, what’s most interesting is its promise to “disrupt” the scene.

Expect plenty of breaking news online, which hasn’t been a traditional forte of the Italian press. And let’s hope that we’ll get plenty of thoughtful long reads. As in much of Europe – and the rest of the world – many of Italy’s papers have gone down the route of bite-size news. But Domani’s hiring of several investigative reporters of repute – and the fact that it has already broken a story about Lombardy governor Attilio Fontana’s Swiss bank account in the 1990s – bodes well. We’re also told to expect a paper influenced by the likes of US media outlets such as Vox and Boston Review, with plenty of comment, essays and infographics. We’re keen to see it.

Diplomacy / The Arctic

Pole position

The US appointed a new envoy to the Arctic last week, with career diplomat Jim DeHart assuming the “Arctic co-ordinator” post, which has remained unfilled at the US State Department since 2017. It is the latest in a series of moves, which include the reopening of a US consulate in Greenland, that reflects the country’s growing preoccupation with the region. The Arctic has become a fixation for Russia and China too, as shrinking sea ice opens new shipping routes and offers access to vast stores of resources. In 2018 China unveiled its Arctic strategy and Russia has increasingly grown its military and economic footprint in the region over the past decade. Although the US might now be playing catch up, Donald Trump is hoping to make up for lost time: in June he issued a memorandum for a new fleet of icebreaker ships, as well as possible bases in northern Alaska.

Politics / USA

Running woman

As Joe Biden prepares to unveil his choice of running mate, one of the lesser known contenders to emerge has been Karen Bass (pictured), a 66-year-old California congresswoman first elected in 2011 (and representing the district of Monocle’s Los Angeles office to boot). If selected, she would be the first woman of colour chosen for a major party’s presidential ticket. Bass is well liked and no firebrand, unlike some other figures on the progressive left in the US. She is also hugely experienced in politics, something that Biden’s team is said to favour over the so-called “excitement factor” of other potential VP nominees. Bass last week recanted comments she made following the death of Fidel Castro in 2016, in which she was accused of praising Cuba’s controversial former president. That aside, she would be a popular choice and a steady presence in what will no doubt be an unpredictable presidential campaign. And even if Biden goes another way, her national profile has been rightly raised.

Fashion / Global

Mountain rescue

Swiss luxury accessories brand Bally might be known in the fashion industry as the name that keeps those on the Alps looking sharp – but some of its most pioneering work is happening on more far-flung slopes. The company recently announced plans to expand the conservation work of its Bally Peak Outlook Foundation, which is cleaning up base camps across the Himalayas and beyond. It began the project in 2019 by organising a unique expedition to the summit of Mount Everest and removing more than one tonne of waste – bringing awareness to the negative impact of adventure tourism in the process. The brand’s new commitment supports similar expeditions across the Himalayan mountains and to Mount Fuji in Japan, as well as the building of new, more sustainable trails to access the summit of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. “This is a long-term mission and we are only just getting started,” says Nicolas Girotto, Bally CEO.

Urbanism / New Zealand

Tall order

Local councils often seem to find their own plans at odds with regional and national initiatives, which is why the New Zealand government’s recent decision to introduce a federal policy to be adopted by these councils is significant. Coming into effect on 20 August, its two key features – abolishing the requirement for parking spaces in new developments and height limits in parts of the city – will be both loved and loathed by discerning urbanists. Removing car-parking requirements for new developments will lessen vehicle dependence, increase neighbourhood affordability and support transit and cycling, which are all good things. However, eliminating height limits (it’s worth noting that extremely tall buildings aren’t the only means of increasing density) could lay the foundation for the construction of skyscrapers that are out of touch with the scale of a city. Here’s hoping that local councils implement the new policy with an eye for public space and appropriately scaled homes and offices – without unnecessary parking, of course.

M24 / The Menu

What’s in chefs’ fridges?

Skye McAlpine’s tips for perfect (and less stressful) dinner parties, a look at Denmark’s growing wine business, plus a peek into the fridges of some of the world’s most famous chefs.

Monocle Films / Canada

Fogo Island – Part 1: Entrepreneurship

With a population of just 2,400, Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland, is an inspiring example of how rural communities can be brought back to life. In the first film of our two-part series we profile Zita Cobb and her Shorefast entrepreneurial vision for the island.

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