Tuesday 29 August 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 29/8/2023

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Tomos Lewis

War of the words

At the beginning of August, stories by Canada’s news outlets began to disappear from Meta’s largest social networks, Facebook and Instagram, for people in the country. The blackout is the company’s response to Ottawa’s recent Online News Act, which compels technology firms to pay a share of their profits to Canada’s newsrooms for monetising their articles.

The removal of these stories has been incremental but its effect has become more pronounced as major national news has broken since the blackout came into effect. Many Canadian social-media users, for example, were quick to note that it was through posts by US outlets that they became aware of Justin Trudeau’s separation from his wife, Sophie Grégoire (pictured, on right), rather than those by the country’s own news channels, for which it was unsurprisingly a headline story.

But the record-breaking wildfires that burned swaths of western Canada last week have highlighted the damaging effects of Meta’s policy. Many of the tens of thousands of people ordered to evacuate the province of British Columbia and the Arctic city of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories reported being hampered by a lack of information. As the course and strength of the wildfires changed, often minute by minute, there were fewer readily accessible sources of up-to-date guidance available to those who needed it most.

It is clearly untenable that either side can sustain their current positions. The Canadian government will need to relinquish parts of the Online News Act without compromising the legislation’s most noble aim: ensuring that newsrooms are paid for the journalism that they produce by the platforms that share it. Technology companies such as Meta will need to reassess their position, as news consumers in Canada balk at the fact that their access to stories can be held hostage by companies that do not want to pay for journalism that they have, so far, taken and used for free.

Tomos Lewis is Monocle’s Toronto correspondent. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Image: Shutterstock

Diplomacy / USA & Costa Rica

Bridging borders

Today, Joe Biden will host his Costa Rican counterpart, Rodrigo Chavez Robles (pictured), at the White House as he seeks to deepen ties with a key Latin American ally. The bilateral meeting’s agenda involves discussions over shared economic interests, security challenges and, perhaps most pressingly, possible legal pathways for migrants. Costa Rica has, in recent years, seen an influx of asylum requests as a result of wider regional instability.

There are currently about 90,000 asylum seekers in the country, which has a population of just five million. In June, the two nations announced an immigration agreement to help ease the burden on the Costa Rican asylum system by allowing for a proportion of migrants to head directly to the US instead. The latest developments come at a time when Biden is working to counter China’s influence in Central America. But with migration expected to be a key flashpoint in the forthcoming presidential election, he is walking a political tightrope.

Image: Getty Images

Aviation / UK

Air pressure

UK-based aviation company Monarch Airlines has announced plans for a revival, six years after its collapse. Its return is powered by investors seeking to resuscitate the brand with a fleet of 15 modern Airbus narrowbodies. “Monarch’s comeback was not on my bingo card for 2023,” Murdo Morrison, head of strategic content at Flightglobal, tells The Monocle Minute. “The survival record of resurrected airlines is not great, as we saw from the attempt to relaunch Flybe in 2022.”

Despite Monarch’s reliable service, the company faced significant difficulties competing with aggressive rivals such as Ryanair, Easyjet and Jet2. “Its challenges remain much the same as when it went bust in 2017,” says Morrison. “What does an operator that is reliant on the leisure market do in winter when Europeans are not going to the beach? If Monarch wants to remain relevant, it should look to competitor airlines that have solved this problem by offering low-cost city breaks through the winter.”

Image: Daybreak

Food & drink / Japan

Icely does it

Tokyo-based company Daybreak is a pioneer in quick-freezing technology. Anything from top-quality sushi to sandwiches can be preserved with no effect on their look, colour or taste. “In conventional freezing, the water inside the food’s cells turns into ice and the cell membranes are damaged as a result of the ice crystals,” says Daybreak’s Momoko Imura during Monocle’s recent visit.

Typically, this negatively affects a dish’s quality and especially its umami flavour components, as well as its colour and texture. Quick-freezing substantially reduces the size of crystals, minimising damage and negating the need for additives. The company has launched Artlock, a specialist cooler for restaurants, shops and caterers, and has a lab where it tests every type of food for its freezing potential. The result is welcome news for consumers and the environment alike as dishes are tastier and have a longer lifespan, reducing food waste.

For more unlikely finds, insights and ideas from our global network of reporters, buy a copy of the September issue of Monocle, which is out now.

Print / Germany

Read all about it

On Friday, Hamburg will welcome more than 120 independent publishers and sole-proprietor outlets for Indiecon, its three-day annual independent publishing festival. This year, Indiecon is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a vibrant, vital programme of lectures, talks and discussions about the state of independent print. “In the past 10 years, we have managed to gather an amazing community, with all the shifts and challenges,” Nina Prader, Indiecon’s curator, tells The Monocle Minute.

Participants will be discussing how to tackle distribution and how to implement different strategies depending on the size of a publication. The editorial team of Ukrainian magazine Solomiya, which was launched in response to Russia’s invasion, is expected to take centre stage at a dedicated talk on publishing at a time of conflict. If you find yourself passing through Hamburg’s Oberhafen neighbourhood this weekend, don’t miss a great opportunity to browse through some new exciting titles.

For our full interview with Indiecon’s Nina Prader, listen to the latest episode of ‘The Stack’, our dedicated show to print media, on Monocle Radio.

Image: Alamy

Monocle Radio / The Concierge

S’Agaró, Lisbon and Net-a-Porter

We speak to Alberto Deapu, general manager of Hostal de La Gavina, about the end of the season in sunny S’Agaró and Monocle’s transport correspondent, Gabriel Leigh, updates us on the latest travel news. Also in the programme: we sit down with Libby Page, market director at Net-a-Porter, who tells us what we should be packing this summer and Carlota Rebelo meets our correspondent, Gaia Lutz, in Lisbon. Plus: we answer listener questions from around the world, from Madrid to Copenhagen.

Monocle Films / Urbanism

Meet Europe’s first chief heat officer

Athens is the hottest capital city in mainland Europe and temperatures continue to rise. That’s why Eleni Myrivili was appointed as the city’s – and continent’s – first chief heat officer in 2021. We meet her on Philoppapou hill to hear about how urban design can help to build resilience against rising temperatures.


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