Andrew Tuck, editor at Monocle, talks about launching a premium weekly paper, its global take on the news – and the importance of exclusivity.
Throughout December, Monocle published a print newspaper called The Winter Weekly. What sets it apart from other titles in the portfolio?
We believe in print – as you may have heard – and have long been intrigued by the newspaper format and how, if you were starting out today, you might use newsprint.
For several years we published Monocle Mediterraneo and Monocle Alpino: single-issue papers that came out in the summer and winter, respectively, and were there to reach our readers during their holidays. But in 2017 we started looking at the newspaper idea again, first in the summer and then with The Winter Weekly.
Our feeling is that there is space for a nimble premium weekly paper that delivers news and features with a truly global perspective – and that also knows when to have fun. What sets it apart? The papers still speak to the same values as the magazine. But they allow us to think about a faster delivery of news and views in print.
The newspaper format presumably appeals to a different demographic to the larger magazine. What was your target audience for this venture?
I don’t think the demographic is different in age or outlook. But there is perhaps a reader who is more in the weekly news/magazine space who we are connecting with for the first time. We are just after people who want a less national take on the news. We believe a global perspective is more vital than ever.
The papers have also let us work with some of the world’s best brands on advertising and advertorial content. They have been key to our success. A double-page advertisement looks glorious in the newspaper.
In addition to publishing 10 issues of Monocle magazine each year, the brand also produces annual editions of The Escapist and The Forecast. Is the same editorial team responsible for all these titles?
Yes. The same editors work across every project that we do and, yes, a few of them looked like they needed a spa break by Christmas. It’s demanding, but delivers a consistency of voice and quality. And the team are passionate about their pages and like to keep a firm grip on copy that impacts on their – and our – standing.
Monocle creates content in a wide range of formats, including video, podcasts and digital articles. In an increasingly digital media landscape, what can print titles do to stay relevant?
Look, there’s no single solution and in recent years lots of titles have got themselves lost believing that there is some magic editorial elixir out there – remember all those dedicated iPad teams?
“What do our readers really need?” has to be the starting point. And don’t just rely on focus groups to give you the answers. Develop a gut feeling, because readers still want to be surprised and not served market-research-inspired “content”.
Then you have to be inventive with how you use print to make it a really pleasurable experience. Monocle is not opposed to digital but we are just keen to know that there is a revenue model – and not at some hard-to-define date in the future.
Are there plans to publish another seasonal weekly newspaper in the summer?
Yes, The Summer Weekly is returning and we are looking at other newspaper projects too. We will push the news content this summer and continue to work with photographers and illustrators who make the most of the scale and landscape you get to populate with a paper.
What is Monocle’s relationship like with PRs? And what sort of stories are you interested in hearing about?
We are not PR-driven and do not take free press trips. We want to be at liberty to say what we think and we cannot run stories that you will see in a dozen other titles. However, some good PRs understand that and make introductions that are fruitful and astute. But we want exclusivity.
Monocle prides itself on curating premium editorial content. But outside of the Monocle brand, are there any writers whose work you particularly admire?
There are lots of great magazine and newspaper writers and editors – and broadcasters too. Monocle, like any paper, covers everything from diplomacy to fashion – and there are titles in every sector that I admire.
I read the New York Times and Washington Post for US politics, check out ArchDaily and Dezeen for architectural news, see if my Spanish lessons will help me through El Pais and read fashion news in the FT, as well as leafing through a host of smaller, bespoke titles.