Friday 28 April 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 28/4/2023

The Monocle Minute

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Opinion / Ed Stocker

Loud but not clear

I can survive about half an hour of shouty TV. When I lived in New York, I would regularly tune in to Fox News to see what was angering Sean Hannity – the flavour du jour back then, before being surpassed by Tucker Carlson (pictured). But there was only so long I could stomach the same sort of grievances and bile. Nor is Fox News the sole culprit. CNN is also at times guilty of getting shouty, stacking an endless conveyor belt of talking heads on-screen, with some offering opinions based on very little fact. The only requisite seems to be that you talk over one another as much as possible. This is entertainment, rather than current-affairs programming.

What has been depressing to watch over the past few years has been the creeping Americanisation of European TV. I don’t mean that as some sort of looking-down-my-nose snobbery of the Old World versus the New. It’s more to do with how polarisation has spread to TV news in such a way that sobriety no longer seems to sell. It’s not just the BBC journalists leaving the network, tired of not being able to express their opinions and happy to receive much higher pay somewhere else. It’s also the plethora of new channels that have sprung up, such as GB News and TalkTV in the UK and CNews in France (home to a talk show anchored by right-wing firebrand Éric Zemmour until 2021). Not being afraid to be polemical and getting personal seem to be the new mantras.

So what, if anything, does Fox News’s unceremonious sacking of Carlson tell us? Some might suggest that it goes to show how no person is bigger than the network. But I’d like to think it makes clear that lies and hatred have no place on a news channel – and that, perhaps, some of Europe’s shoutier networks will think twice.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s Europe editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Alamy

Politics / China & India

Combining forces

China’s defence minister, Li Shangfu, is in Delhi today for a security summit hosted by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The regional bloc, which counts countries such as Russia, China and Pakistan among its members, seeks to counterbalance Western alliances such as Nato. Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu (pictured, on right, with Li), will be in attendance, while his Pakistani counterpart, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, is expected to join online. Alongside the main gatherings that will help to shape the association’s security agenda, crucial bilateral meetings will take place on the sidelines. Li’s trip marks the first time that a Chinese defence minister has visited India since the deadly clashes between the countries’ troops in 2020. These confrontations – the result of a border dispute – have continued to flare up in the years since. It is clearly in the interests of both countries to find common ground.

Image: Getty Images


Return journeys

Museums in Europe have long contended with the question of how to handle the restitution of cultural property. Yesterday the French government released a report to clarify its policy on returning objects that were looted during the colonial period and the country’s Nazi occupation. This comes three months after France’s culture minister, Rima Abdul Malak, announced that the government would pass new legislation on the matter.

The report, commissioned by Emmanuel Macron and written by former Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez, proposes the creation of special committees formed of scientific and legal experts. Members of these groups would meet their counterparts from countries seeking restitution to establish whether an object meets the criteria for being sent back, with the final decision in the hands of a French court. Museums from around Europe will be watching closely to see how many of those conversations actually result in works being put into crates.

Image: Ayla Hibri

Media / Palestine

No limits

Radio Alhara was launched in 2020 as a way for five friends to stay in touch during the coronavirus lockdowns. It was initially broadcast from Bethlehem, Ramallah and Amman but now you’ll hear presenters and DJs from around the world. A similarly international spirit imbues its sound with a typical schedule featuring Afro-funk, Turkish rap, Bahraini wedding songs and more.

“Alhara means ‘neighbourhood’,” says the station’s co-founder Elias Anastas, who also works as an architect. “The station has been extending the limits of that neighbourhood to the scale of the planet.” Radio Alhara is closely aligned with humanitarian causes. In 2021 the station aired static for 24 hours to protest against the eviction of Palestinian families in Jerusalem and more recently broadcast a programme to support anti-government protesters in Iran. “Radio Alhara is an experiment to create a cultural centre that is constantly being reshaped by its community,” says Anastas.

A version of this piece appears in the May issue of Monocle magazine, which is available now from newsstands or our online shop. To guarantee you don’t miss an issue, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Alamy


Stormy weather

Boeing has reported a loss of $425m (€386m) following a series of supply-chain and quality-control issues, signalling ongoing difficulties for the company. The plane-maker maintains that the issues were caused by supply rather than demand problems, which affected the delivery of its top-selling 737 Max and 787 jets. These delays will affect the summer travel season, as airlines will have fewer planes than they expected to deal with big crowds.

But all is not lost. “Boeing has been very transparent and honest all the way throughout this recovery process,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at FlightGlobal, tells The Monocle Minute. “That has probably done it some good but it still needs to work a bit to recover its reputation with customers. Boeing needs to try to re-establish its reputation for constructing fantastic aircrafts – that is its biggest challenge.” This patch of turbulence isn’t over just yet.

Image: Paulius Staniunas

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Culture

What to read this spring

Mia Levitin and John Mitchinson join Robert Bound in the studio for the definitive guide to what to read in the coming months.

Monocle Films / Global

Welcome to the Auberge Monocle

Monocle has so far resisted the temptation to open a hotel – but that doesn’t mean that we don’t spend time thinking about who we’d hire to oversee a renovation, run the bar or design the uniforms. With this in mind, here are the six house rules we’d strictly enforce to keep things civil and serene around the pool, in the lobby and on the balcony.


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