Thursday 6 July 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Thursday. 6/7/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Alamy


The fine print

The death of print newspapers and magazines has been greatly exaggerated. If you don’t believe me, a trip to a buzzy news kiosk in France might be in order. There, you’ll find new releases with bright covers beside stern-looking newspapers and trusty periodicals, offering insightful reads on the world. They still catch eyes, draw crowds and tempt sales.

On a recent visit to Marseille, I spotted the first issue of L’Étiquette Femme and other new publications including Le Magazine Dubo, a quarterly about art, design and living well. There were, of course, staples such as Les Echos, Le Monde and Paris Match too. I picked up the cult music magazine Les Inrockuptibles, which was featured in the July/August issue of Monocle. The title still has the distinctive sense of discovery and sharp cultural criticism that made it popular in the 1980s and it now hosts its own annual music festival, showcasing emerging talent from across the country. How’s that for innovation?

In France, there has been some good news about the established press too. Last year many of the country’s daily newspapers had increases in their paid circulation. Though digital editions will have played their part, the presence of their must-read printed weekend supplements neatly arranged on newsstands remains part of the charm for many readers. Both M Le Magazine du Monde and Madame Figaro, Le Figaro’s take on fashion, are good examples of that.

While many blame the failure of some newsstands on a dwindling interest in print, community news kiosks are far from doomed. Done right – and with a certain je ne sais quoi – they can still be spaces of inspiration, discovery and delight.

Fernando Augusto Pacheco is a senior Monocle correspondent and host of ‘The Stack’ on Monocle Radio. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / USA & China

Talking terms

The US Treasury secretary, Janet Yellen (pictured), visits China today to discuss the relationship between the world’s two leading economies. Her visit comes less than a month after the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, met Xi Jinping amid rising concerns over Taiwan’s national security, China’s stance on the Russia-Ukraine war and US-led restrictions on Chinese technology.

Though it’s unlikely that Yellen’s visit will result in a breakthrough, her trip aims to facilitate more frequent engagement between the countries. “Both sides want to curb their dependency on one another,” George Magnus, a research associate at the University of Oxford’s China Centre, tells The Monocle Minute. “Washington believes that Beijing is making business for foreign firms much less friendly and more political, and is expected to announce new controls on investment in China. The goal of Yellen’s visit is to establish new lines of communication, which we haven’t seen in a while.”

Image: Shutterstock

Affairs / Colombia

Agreement in principle

Colombia’s last active guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), has promised to stop attacking the nation’s military as it prepares for a six-month ceasefire with the government that is expected to begin in August. While many hope that the announcement heralds an end to almost six decades of conflict, there are still significant issues to be addressed.

“The ELN is no longer an ideological guerrilla movement in the way that it was in the 1970s,” Christopher Sabatini, Chatham House’s senior fellow for Latin America, tells The Monocle Minute. “It has become a drug-trafficking organisation that’s also engaged in illegal mining in both Colombia and Venezuela.” It remains unclear if there will be any incentives for the ELN to lay down their arms completely and become integrated into the civil and political life of the country, says Sabatini. “A peace agreement with such a profoundly criminal organisation would be globally unprecedented.”

For more on Colombia’s ceasefire with its last active guerrilla group, tune in to Wednesday’s edition of ‘The Briefing’ on Monocle Radio.

Image: Sam Frost

Fashion / USA

Taking flight

Despite a slowdown in sales this year, the US luxury market remains a priority for fashion businesses. Paris-based design house Hermès has recently transformed a chalet in Aspen into a new retail space (pictured) – its second location in Colorado and its 34th boutique in the US. The shop-cum-gallery showcases artworks alongside items from the brand’s luxury categories, ranging from watches to equestrian equipment and fashion accessories.

From 15 to 23 July the company will also host a seven-part play called On the Wings of Hermès at the Barker Hangar events space in Santa Monica, California. The whimsical production, which has also been staged in Taiwan, Japan and France, brings Birkin bags to life as puppets and highlights the value of humour in the world of luxury, as well as connecting with customers beyond the shop floor.

Image: Harold Feinstein Photography Trust

Photography / France

Picture this

The 54th edition of the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival opened this week in southern France. The annual meeting of photographers, agencies, gallerists and curators takes place across dozens of sites in the Provençal city, including ancient amphitheatres, churches and the city’s streets. Many of the exhibitions are held in Parc des Ateliers, a vast former industrial site and home to Swiss collector and festival backer Maja Hoffmann’s Luma Arles project. The foundation worked with architects Annabelle Selldorf and Frank Gehry to transform the site into spaces for a range of interdisciplinary shows.

This year’s public programme, which runs until 24 September, includes a collection of Polaroids by German film-maker Wim Wenders, works by native Coney Island photographer Harold Feinstein (pictured) contact sheets of images taken in postwar Sète by French director Agnès Varda and a retrospective of large-scale cinematic creations by US photographer Gregory Crewdson.

Read Saturday’s newsletter for Monocle’s pick of the Prix Pictet shortlist and more fun at the festival.

Image: Shutterstock

Monocle Radio / The Urbanist

Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading

Mariella Bevan browses a historic library that is helping to preserve the written heritage of the Portuguese language in Brazil.

Monocle Films / Affairs

Keeping the faith

In this digital age, do we need more forgiveness and sacrifice in our lives? And where can we look for guidance? Monocle Films sat down with Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to find out how the church strives to address contemporary needs and remain relevant in Greek society today.


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