Friday 1 September 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Friday. 1/9/2023

The Monocle Minute

House news

Tune in to Monocle Radio throughout the day for a special edition of our daily shows, hosted live from Monocle’s Quality of Life Conference in Munich. Kicking off at 08.00 Munich time, The Globalist will set the daily news agenda, followed by The Briefing at 13.00 with our team and conference guests. And, at 19.00, tune in for a special edition of The Monocle Daily, hosted by Tyler Brûlé and Andrew Tuck.

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Christopher Lord

Changing the channels

Could it take a Brit to shake up America’s TV news industry? CNN is about to find out: the broadcaster has just appointed Mark Thompson (pictured) as its new CEO and chair. A former director-general of the BBC, Thompson is better known on this side of the Atlantic for helming The New York Times through choppy financial waters and bringing the paper into the digital age. CNN executives are hoping that he will be able to produce the same kind of magic on the small screen but he certainly has his work cut out for him.

In the past year, CNN has launched a premium subscription service that lasted just a few weeks, had a slew of high-profile departures and maintained a continual decline in viewing figures. Meanwhile, the short-lived tenure of Thompson’s predecessor, Chris Licht, ended in June amid reports that the newsroom had lost faith in him. CNN’s travails are often ascribed to the slow death of rolling news but rivals such as MSNBC are seeing their ratings tick up, suggesting that many viewers are switching over rather than switching off.

Thompson’s big win at The New York Times was to attract and keep new subscribers in part by investing in journalists – today, the newsroom is the largest in its history. Following a slew of cuts, he has to try to make the same case at CNN. While recent efforts to broadcast more balanced stories have received internal pushback at CNN, the US is about to enter an election year, with the stage set for high drama. The network has the chance to set itself apart from the competition, which it has done in the past, as being a cool-headed place for discerning viewers. “News is not just a list of headlines,” said Thompson in 2020. “It’s a sophisticated cultural object.” These are wise words as he embarks on a new beat.

Christopher Lord is Monocle’s US editor. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

Defence / USA & Taiwan

Helping hand

The US government has approved an $80m (€73.7m) military-aid package for Taiwan as part of its Foreign Military Financing (FMF) programme, which is normally used for providing economic assistance to sovereign states. It’s a significant move from Washington and one that is likely to anger China. Despite sending a smaller package compared to previous years, there has been a clear shift to sending it as aid rather than as trade.

“It shows Beijing and Taipei that the US is here to assure the latter of its ability to defend itself,” Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy in East Asia at King’s College London, tells The Monocle Minute. “The US wants to focus on the resilience of the Taiwanese military in case there are any attempts to change Tapei’s status quo by force. This sales package is both politically important and militarily substantive.”

Image: Getty Images

Diplomacy / Mongolia & The Vatican

Leap of faith

Pope Francis arrives in Mongolia today for a four-day visit. He will be the first Pope in the history of the Catholic Church to visit the northeast Asian nation, which has a population of 3.4 million but only about 1,500 practising Catholics. The Pope has a known penchant for touring lesser-visited Catholic communities in countries where they are a minority – previous trips include Bahrain and Kazakhstan. He is also keen to promote interfaith dialogues, which he will do by meeting government officials and religious leaders in majority-Buddhist Mongolia.

But beyond that, his trip will have a geopolitical importance. Pope Francis has never visited either of Mongolia’s larger neighbours, Russia and China, but has been outspoken about the need to resolve the conflict in Ukraine and the Chinese government’s repressive actions toward religious minorities. A visit to China’s Catholics is off the cards as the nation holds no official diplomatic relations with the Holy See – the Pope’s visit to Mongolia may have an audience slightly larger than its 1,500 devotees after all.

Image: Nathalie Mohadjer

Monocle Quality of Life Conference / Munich

Panel surfing

After stints in Paris, Madrid and Athens, this year’s Monocle Quality of Life Conference has decamped to the buzzing German metropolis of Munich. Be a part of the conversation by tuning in to Monocle Radio, which is broadcasting The Globalist, The Briefing and The Monocle Daily shows from the Bavarian capital today.

Expect probing conversations about what makes Munich such a welcoming and entrepreneurial place to live and discussions on the topics raised by our panellists. This year’s municipal talent is represented by Dallas mayor Eric Johnson and Bratislava mayor Matúš Vallo, who has been busy with the task of greenifying his city’s urban spaces. Elsewhere, we will be discussing what other global cities are on the up, exploring where mobility is headed and explaining why hospitality matters.

Image: CommonState/Jane Zhang

Culture / Australia

Show must go on

One of Australia’s most prestigious international film festivals, CinefestOz, has opened for its 16th edition this week and will run until this Sunday. This year’s festival showcases some of the best cinematic talents that the country has to offer, with notable premieres including Shayda (pictured) by Iran-born director Noora Niasari and The Rooster, directed by Mark Leonard Winter.

One of the event’s main highlights is its annual AU$100,000 (€60,000) Film Prize, the nation’s largest filmmaking award, the winner of which will be announced this Saturday from a list of four finalists. The festival season, however, has been marked by the ongoing writers’ strike, with actors and directors skipping the festivities to support the movement. But while other events such as the Biennale Cinema in Venice have felt the effect of missing stars, it seems that the lights of the Australian film industry are still shining bright.

Image: Krystal Harfert

Monocle Radio / Monocle on Design

‘Beyond Granite’ and Bandaloop

We head to Washington to visit a series of new monuments and memorials, and scale St Paul’s Cathedral in London to learn about the link between choreography and the built environment.

Monocle Radio / Culture

Meet the photographers: Rena Effendi

In our latest film series, we meet and celebrate some of the people behind our iconic photography reportage. In our first episode Istanbul-based photographer Rena Effendi talks about her process, why she shoots on film and her assignment to Libya in 2021. She had never been to Tripoli before but was soon won over and captured a mesmerising mix of full-blown glamour, oddness and a perhaps unexpected order and calmness. Discover more with The Monocle Book of Photography.


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