António Rolo Duarte
Another academic year has passed. On my Facebook feed, I can see the climbing plants at the Old Quadrangle turning again to the pastel shade of burgundy which takes over The University of Manchester in autumn. This time, however, I am not there in person to witness this majestic transformation. I am writing to you, dear readers, from distant lands. My time as a student at Manchester has come to an end and it is time that I say goodbye to you as editor of this publication which I imagined, designed, founded, and led for almost three years.
It is true that most of the ideas developed at The Manchester Magazine never ended up appearing outside of our office at the Arthur Lewis Building. Video podcasts, political newsletters, high-profile interviews, and endless plans for special reports will never be enjoyed by anyone other than those who were part of the extraordinary team which, between 2014 and 2017, met every week with the intention of producing a magazine that would be "always one step ahead".
Even so, looking at the one hundred articles published under my editorship (this is the 101st), the website which hosts them, and the social media platforms where The Manchester Magazine is present, I get a glimpse into the magazine I imagined back in 2014. This magazine I pictured was something produced by students but radically different from what students had been doing until then. It was a sharp, avant-garde, diverse publication, which would unpack our world in an intellectually fierce way and discuss important issues in the depth they deserved. Of course, the way all this was framed was crucial: style, spirit and sophistication, embodied in modern design and outstanding photography.
The magazine we are in the presence of today is much better than the one I imagined nearly three years ago. The Manchester Magazine is a confident, elegant, nuanced young publication, built on an agile bureaucratic system guided by strong editorial principles. But it is also an institution, in its own way, and a name which represents integrity, independence and modernity. It is, I honestly believe, something representative of the very best of our generation.
The reason why today's TMM is so much better than the one on my mind three years ago has to do with the exceptional individuals who joined me in this journey. Jeanmiguel Uva, of course, was there with me from the very beginning. He accepted to be my right arm on this project in a blustery winter afternoon in Oxford Road, Manchester, having spoken to me only twice before in his life. He trusted The Manchester Magazine when it was no more than an idea; and without Jean’s presence, talent and reason, it might never have become more than that. Needless to say, he never left.
When Jean and I started actively planning the launch of the magazine, we came up with an initial list of people who we thought could be valuable for this project. Perusing the list now, I realize that none of them ever set foot in TMM. Although we spent hundreds of hours trying to find the best writers from our university, the people who made the strongest mark on the magazine always had a tendency to find us – rather than us finding them.
Jake Hampson first got to us via email. Applying for a position as marketing manager, he wrote: “The onus of starting a magazine and keeping on top of it as well as other commitments can lead to a loss of the initial enthusiasm that once brought about the venture. I believe the injection of belief and enthusiasm that I would bring is exactly what the magazine needs.” Jake was right, of course, and his presence ended up being one of the most determinant factors for the longevity of this publication.
Among the many different tasks Jake took on at The Manchester Magazine, there was one which he undertook with particular commitment in the academic year 2015-16. Every week, as we ended the editorial meeting, Jake would say in passing: “There is just another thing. Edoardo messaged me again. He suggests…”
Edoardo Tricerri was on exchange at Sciences Po, Paris, and by the second semester of 2015-16 he was contributing more to the development of The Manchester Magazine than almost everyone else in Manchester together. Before his departure to France, Edoardo and I had only spoken once. But I remember greeting him as family when he returned. Naturally, he had a position on the editorial board waiting for him.
Several others were crucial to the success of The Manchester Magazine in general, and of my editorship in particular. Richard Bolton is undoubtedly the most prolific writer this magazine has ever seen. It is a testament to his abilities and commitment that we have decided to give him the opportunity to lead The Manchester Magazine into a new era, taking over from me as editor-in-chief. Samuel Lindblad, who will be his deputy editor, has brought range, skill, and freshness to our work.
The one thing Richard and Sam have in common is the fact that it was Kirstine Rysbjerg Munk who first brough them to The Manchester Magazine. Besides being a fantastic public relations operative, Kirstine, the Dane abroad, injected life into this publication. She is still sorely missed at the office, and I suspect she will continue to be so for years to come.
Beyond our editorial staff, a word to those who frequently, occasionally, or at some point, contributed with articles, photographs and ideas to The Manchester Magazine while I was editor. To people like Margarita Poluektova, Lioui Benhamou, Riccardo Scroppo, Tyler Bryce, Candice Chau, Reuben Cutts, Jack Seymour, and others, I am sincerely thankful. For going beyond their job roles at The University of Manchester to help us and support us, Julie Tierney and Dr Aoileann Ní Mhurchu need to be mentioned here too.
Naturally, every editor’s farewell letter is little more than a love letter to his readers. So to you, who have faithfully been on the other side of the screen, goes my final word. When we started this magazine, we did so because we wanted to. The reason why we have kept it going, however, is that you pushed us to. You, dear readers, were truly always one step ahead. For these great three years, I thank you.
António Rolo Duarte is the outgoing editor-in-chief of The Manchester Magazine. He is a Politics and International Relations graduate of The University of Manchester