Tuesday 9 July 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Tuesday. 9/7/2024

The Monocle Minute

The Opinion

Screen burn: Inside the Polish newsroom of TVN24

Image: Alamy

Media / Mateusz Mazzini

Poland’s media faces an existential confrontation with the Silicon Valley giants. The state must step in to even the odds

Last week, hundreds of news organisations across Poland blacked out their front covers and online home pages, appealing directly to the country’s politicians with a simple message: “Don’t kill Polish media.” At the centre of the debate is the EU Digital Single Market Directive, which the government is working to implement. At first glance, the directive, which requires technology companies to pay publishers for the reuse of their content, might seem like a positive step. But it was quickly thrown into controversy after Poland’s lower house rejected an amendment that would have guaranteed a state mediator to help secure a fair deal between Silicon Valley giants and media outlets.

Publishers argue that, denied government support, they will have to negotiate a settlement alone, leaving them at risk of securing minimal compensation. The issue is among the key domestic challenges facing prime minister Donald Tusk, who ran on a promise to empower the country’s embattled media after years of right-wing attacks on press freedom. If the country’s news outlets are to survive, Tusk must step in to protect them.

Technology companies, of course, disagree. Google argues that it has already paid Poland’s largest publishers more than €240m between 2021 and 2023 for the use of their content. It also points out that it has signed bilateral deals with some 4,000 outlets across 19 European countries without the need for state mediation. But it’s impossible to imagine even the most powerful Polish media companies prevailing in courtroom confrontations with the Silicon Valley behemoths. Meanwhile, publishers claim that the millions paid represent only a fraction of what is owed.

There’s still time to save the bill. The Polish parliament’s upper chamber has yet to vote on the legislation and there have been signs that the news outlets’ message has reached the senators. The issue is about more than just giving publications a helping hand. Poles are increasingly wary of Big Tech’s power across various sectors, from e-commerce to banking and advertising. No company will be able to stand up to such a force alone. States can’t shy away from confrontation, even if it means angering the global giants.

Mateusz Mazzini is a journalist based in Poland. For more opinion, analysis and insight, subscribe to Monocle today.

The Briefings

Here to stay: Yuriko Koike delivers a speech at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office

Image: Alamy

Politics / Japan

Tokyo votes for continuity as incumbent Yuriko Koike wins a third term in the city’s gubernatorial election

Tokyo’s residents opted for the status quo on Sunday, giving 71-year-old Yuriko Koike a third four-year term as city governor. Though there were 56 candidates in all, the election quickly became a three-horse race between Koike, her centre-left rival Renho Saito and Shinji Ishimaru, the former mayor of Akitakata in Hiroshima prefecture. With only a short time to campaign, there was little opportunity to discuss candidates’ policies and personal popularity became key. Ishimaru benefited from his strong online following and pulled in a significant share of the under-30 vote.

But where he received 1.66 million votes overall, the incumbent claimed about three million. So it’s back to business for Koike. One issue that she will have to address is the redevelopment of Jingu Gaien, an area of greenery and sports facilities in the middle of Tokyo. The controversial plan, which Koike signed through in 2023, involves cutting down almost 3,000 trees and demolishing one of the city’s most beloved baseball stadiums. With concerns about its environmental impact growing, it might be time for a rethink.

Roadside attractions: The new terraces on the Champs-Élysées

Image: Sylvain Bachelot

Urbanism / Paris

Paris’s transformation of the Champs-Élysées reaches a new stage with the launch of roadside terraces

A series of 18 new terraces have been inaugurated on the Champs-Élysées in a bid to restore the street’s original splendour in the run-up to the Paris Olympics. Designed by Belgian architect Ramy Fischler’s RF Studio, the structures are part of a transformative scheme that the city’s mayor, Anne Hidalgo, greenlit in 2021. The full plan aims to turn the thoroughfare, which has become associated in recent decades with tourists and protests, into what Hidalgo describes as “an extraordinary garden”.

“The Champs-Élysées is one of the world’s most famous streets and among the hardest to transform,” Fischler tells The Monocle Minute. “From a design perspective, it has been an exciting challenge to create something that is contemporary while also integrating it into Paris’s strong urban aesthetic history.” The pavement amenities, inspired by 19th-century terrace structures known as vacheries anglaises (literally “English cowhouses”), will enable pedestrians to reclaim parts of the boulevard. “It’s the first step towards the renovation of the entire avenue to make it less polluted, more inclusive and more popular with Parisians,” says Fischler.

FILM / Armenia

Though lesser-known on the international stage, Armenia’s Golden Apricot Film Festival performs a crucial role in the industry

The latest edition of Armenia’s Golden Apricot Film Festival officially opened this week. Launched in 2004, the festival has become a regional hub for central European filmmakers, attracting industry heavyweights such as Wim Wenders, Claire Denis and Jia Zhangke. The event revolves around two main international competitions for features and documentaries, as well as the Armenian Panorama competition for filmmakers from the Armenian diaspora.

This year’s highlights include Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan’s Seven Veils, starring Amanda Seyfried, and Armenian director Yervand Vardanyan’s Orbita, a film about the production of backgammon boards in Yerevan. Despite its relatively small scale, the festival is highly respected among film critics. And because it takes a more localised approach to cinema, it serves as an important artistic counterpoint to bigger events in Venice, Cannes and Berlin.

Beyond the Headlines

Image: Luis Garvan

Q&A / Edo López

Mexico-based restaurateur serves up his recipe for success

Tijuana-born restaurateur Edo López’s hospitality group has grown from a tiny Japanese diner – Rokai, which he opened in the Mexican capital in 2013 – into a global phenomenon. Since then, his hospitality empire, the Edo Kobayashi Group, has rapidly expanded. He has ventures on three continents, comprising 30 Japanese-influenced restaurants and bars, mostly in Mexico City, plus a traditional Japanese inn. Here, he talks to Monocle about his career and how he took inspiration from his Japanese roots.

You have been involved in more than 30 restaurants. What inspired the first?
I had wanted to run restaurants all my life. With my first opening, Rokai, I was trying to bring purity to Japanese food in Mexico City. I began with a bar, two tables and a small refrigerator for wine. That was it. At first, it was hard but the Japanese embassy was luckily only two or three blocks away and word spread.

Has developing these restaurants been a way to explore your family roots?
Yes. I was born in Tijuana and always felt lost in translation. I was a junior Olympic swimmer when I was young; I spent a lot of time around Americans but never felt American. Then, in Tijuana, I wasn’t Mexican, either. I began to work in music and that took me around the world. In every country, I would seek out underground Japanese restaurants or go to the homes of Japanese families. When I opened my own restaurant, I wanted to bring that authentic taste to Mexico. To get it right, I used to smuggle fish into Mexico, carrying it from Los Angeles in bags. I would smuggle in wasabi too.

Is Mexico City a good place to test an idea?
There are many young chefs working here now. They’re constantly building relationships outside Mexico. You also have Tao Group Hospitality, which has opened a Ling Ling here. Nobu is here too. I feel proud when people from outside Mexico open in this country.

For our full interview with Edo López, pick up a copy of Monocle’sJuly/August issue, which is now available to buy on newsstands and online.

Monocle Radio / The Stack

Talking print with Caitlin Thompson, Steph Chung, Veronica Ditting and Jeremy Leslie

This week on The Stack, we speak with Caitlin Thompson and Steph Chung from Racquet magazine. Plus, creative director Veronica Ditting on her print work at an exhibition at DDD gallery in Kyoto and Jeremy Leslie from Magculture previews Magculture Live in New York.


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