Thursday. 31/3/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Getty Images

Opinion / Chiara Rimella

Never-ending story

It will come as no surprise that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine brought record-breaking audiences to news outlets around the world. People’s interest in the war has been global and immediate: Press Gazette reports that in the UK, February was the fifth-biggest month on record for The Guardian’s online page views, while The Times’s digital platforms saw one of their highest-ever growth rates in the first two weeks after the invasion.

Some critics have pointed out that other conflicts never experienced such sustained, prominent and persistent coverage; that news about Afghanistan and Syria had been fleeting by comparison. But the real question is whether a turning point is inevitable in our coverage of Ukraine too: according to data from Google Trends, interest has already decreased to about 10 per cent of what it was a month ago.

If this becomes a prolonged conflict, media organisations will have to find ways to combat news fatigue. Perhaps the manner in which newspapers approached the pandemic over the past two years can provide some lessons. Human accounts that make the story relatable resonate more than data and numbers, particularly from those who are directly affected. In-depth analysis, as opposed to minute-by-minute updates, can also benefit the reputation and credibility of a newspaper.

Media shapes the way in which we perceive major events and the amount of attention we give to them. (Some responsibility, of course, also falls on the reader to stay engaged in matters of import.) But significant stories also have the power to change how the media operates, teaching news organisations to consider how to better keep our attention – something they should have been doing all along.

Image: Felix Odell

Diplomacy / Global

Doing good

The past few weeks have prompted many conclusions about the relative morality of nations: some have surprised us with their barbarity or short-sightedness, some with their willingness to help. The Good Country Index, which has just released its ninth edition, measures magnanimity in broader terms: “what each country contributes to the common good of humanity and what it takes away, relative to its size”. Sweden (pictured) topped the list for the second time, leading a Europe-heavy top 20. East Asia first appears in 25th place with Singapore; Latin America doesn’t enter until 33rd place (Chile); and Africa not until 44th (South Africa). The US has continued its pattern of decline, from 21st place in 2014 to its current 46th, though it’s worth noting that this year’s edition is built on data from 2020. Most of the effects of the pandemic and certainly responses to the Ukraine conflict are not taken into account – a snapshot of good intentions, perhaps, before circumstances called on every nation to act.

Listen to index creator Simon Anholt on the latest edition of ‘The Monocle Daily’, check out Monocle’s own Soft Power Survey in our December/January issue and look forward to the annual Quality of Life survey in the bumper July/August issue, coming this summer.

Image: Shutterstock

Aviation / Hong Kong

Long way round

Cathay Pacific may soon be operating the world’s longest passenger flight by distance. In order to avoid Russian airspace, the airline intends to reroute its service to Hong Kong from New York. Crossing the Black Sea, Turkey and continental Europe (also avoiding Ukraine) will add some 3,600km to the original route for a total of 16,600km, beating Singapore Airlines’ New York flight, which is some 15,300km long.

According to Cathay’s website, the non-stop journey will take 17 hours 50 minutes (adding an extra 1 to 2 hours only, thanks to seasonal tailwinds). Cathay isn’t the only airline making adjustments because of the conflict; Finnair, for example, was forced to reroute a number of its flights, including those to Tokyo and Seoul. The Nordic carrier may, however, find it easier to market some of its alternative offerings: its new routes should offer some spectacular views as they cross over the North Pole.

Image: Shutterstock

Retail / Switzerland

About time

The watch industry is coming together for the first time in two years at the Watches & Wonders fair, which runs until 5 April in Geneva. Thirty-nine brands are present, including Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex and Jaeger-Le Coultre. For the first time, a second-hand retailer is joining proceedings: the UK-based Watchfinder. “It’s an incredible first step to showcasing that the new and pre-owned industries are growing closer,” CEO Arjen Van de Vall tells The Monocle Minute. Innovation was the biggest talking point during yesterday’s opening: Tag Heuer introduced its first watch featuring lab-grown diamonds, while Cartier debuted the Coussin, which features diamonds set using 3D-printing techniques. But following the cancellation of rival Baselworld during the pandemic, the main focus of this event is simply to be a gathering point for collectors and industry professionals. “We should see it as a symbol of a new era,” says Emmanuel Perrin, president of the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie.

Image: César Béjar

Design / Mexico

Designing the future

Space 10, Ikea’s independent design research lab in Copenhagen, has packed its bags and arrived in Mexico City for a 14-day pop-up at Loot in Roma Norte. It’s hosting talks and debates until 9 April, with panels asking what good design should look like in the face of the ecological crisis – simply, how we might “design ourselves out of this mess”, according to Simon Caspersen, co-founder of Space 10. He hints at ambitions for a longer-term presence for the lab in Mexico and is fascinated by the use of organic biomaterials in the domestic design scene. “We don’t look at these as solutions that can be scaled but rather how these ideas can spark our imagination beyond Mexico,” he tells Monocle. “What can we learn from a philosophy and value system that looks at repairing our environments by designing with materials that are in symbiosis with the places we live?”

Image: Edvinas Bruzas

M24 / Monocle On Design

Craftsmanship

We explore the varied world of craft, from a biennial showcasing its transformative power to the extraordinary work of furniture and interior designer Clara Porset. Plus: how the Turkish city of Inegöl is helping to drive the country’s furniture industry.

Monocle Films / Helsinki

Sisu: The art of Finnish fortitude

Finland is a swimmer’s paradise and residents take to the water year-round. In colder months the practice often involves carving a hole into ice – a demonstration of “sisu”, the unique Finnish concept of fortitude in the face of adversity. Monocle joins journalist Katja Pantzar on an icy dip, to explore the mindset that dates back more than 500 years. Discover more stories and ideas from the region with ‘The Monocle Book of the Nordics’, available now from The Monocle Shop.

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