Soft focus on 2020: Finding humanity in a year of isolation (video)

For photojournalists, interaction with new people and places is crucial to our work. That’s because our medium is experiential. We must be present in place and time to capture an image. As impartial observers, we strive to keep ourselves out of the story. But it’s also impossible to remain unchanged by what we witness. What we see often becomes a small part of us. I like to think that each year we become more complex individuals, thanks to the array of experiences we absorb. 

The year started like any other. January 2020 held the usual promise of travel and adventure. The Monitor’s photographers kicked off the year with trips to Brazil and Estonia. The year, it seemed, was off to an eventful start. Little did we know how it would turn out.

When we’re reporting, we can sometimes tell when a story is history in the making. This year was full of such moments. In this special video, the Monitor photojournalism team invites you to see what we saw this past year – people working to better understand and find new ways to connect with each other.

Why We Wrote This

One of the chief goals of Monitor journalism is to build bridges of understanding. In a year marked by isolation, our photojournalism team helped readers to forge connections with the broader world.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Soft focus on 2020: Finding humanity in a year of isolation (video)
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today