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Bob Geldof looks over some front-page designs as Bono chats with Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Bob Geldof looks over some front-page designs as Bono chats with Globe and Mail editor-in-chief John Stackhouse. (Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Guest Editors

Bono and Bob Geldof take the reins Add to ...

Bono and Bob Geldof visited The Globe and Mail newsroom on Saturday to guest-edit a special edition of the paper on the future of Africa for Monday, May 10. Here's a timeline of their visit.

Usually, The Globe and Mail newsroom is a quiet place on Saturdays. But today was an exception as The Globe welcomed its first-ever guest editors: Bono and Bob Geldof. Last week, The Globe announced they would be guest-editing its Monday issue.

Bono and Bob arrived in The Globe's Toronto newsroom Saturday and got straight to the business of putting the newspaper together. In the timeline below, read about how they worked with The Globe's editors and reporters to select which stories, photos and designs matched their vision of The Globe's all-Africa edition in the lead-up to June's G8/G20 conference.

The entrance

Bono and Bob Geldof arrive in the office. "We're your bosses now," Bob tells the newsroom staff with a laugh. Bono is wearing his trademark shades, untinted.

After a few introductions to Globe section editors, they move over to the meeting table at the centre of the newsroom to get right down to business. Bono greets Globe correspondent Stephanie Nolen, who is in the newsroom for the weekend, with a hug.

"You guys are in charge," The Globe's Editor in Chief John Stackhouse says as the meeting gets underway.

Foreign editor Stephen Northfield presents stories that The Globe's foreign correspondents have been working on for Monday. "It's your paper," he tells Bono and Bob.

"It's a great paper," Bono replies.

They start talking about a story by Africa correspondent Geoffrey York. The pieces under consideration have all be forwarded to Bob and Bono for an advance read. Geoff's piece aims to look beyond the popular image of Africa -- one of corruption, hunger and war -- to the continent's potential in the coming decades.

"It's a fantastic piece," Bob says.

They then move on to a second piece, one by Campbell Clark, and discuss how the two articles can overlap.

"We want to join the dots," Bono points out.

Editing The Globe

Bob mentions that he's glad to have the opportunity to edit The Globe.

"It's so important," Geldof says. "We can do marches, pop concerts, but one of these editions changes things."

John mentions that Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement on Africa and the G20 while travelling in Europe this morning.

"We've already seen the impact this is having," John says. "This is the beginning of a big focus in The Globe on Africa in the 21st century."

Bono and Review editor Andrew Gorham discuss who could write a profile piece on Somali-Canadian artist K'naan on a tight deadline. "Who would get him - and who would be fast?" Bono asks with a laugh.

Cover designs

They move over to look at some proposed designs for Monday's front page. Bob calls Bono over to look at one A1 mock-up that caught his eye. "These are fantastic," Bob says. "This is so different, [The Globe's] look."

Bono's eye is drawn to another cover, featuring a young woman with serious eyes.

"At first you look at it and its a little ominous, but you can see that she's smiling. That is exceedingly beautiful," he says.

"Faces are always going to draw you in," says front-page editor Sarah Lilleyman.

Another design featuring a jumble of words on a red background catches Geldof's eye.

"It's something like Russia in 1917. It's something people would put up on their wall," Geldof says.

"I personally have kept front pages for their boldness. If you're 15, would you put it on your wall?"

"Where's the word Africa in here?" Bono asks.

"The words are up to you," says designer Devin Slater.

"Would you take one positive colour, like a green, on one word?" asks Bono.

Stephanie Nolen points out that the cover featuring the woman who is wearing a hijab might not convey that the issue is about Africa.

"Is there a risk that after the Times Square bombing that people see the hijab and mistake it for something else?" she asks.

They see a lot of great designs, and have trouble narrowing down their pick for the cover. Bono and Bob hit upon the idea of showcasing some of the also-rans for the cover. The Globe's Managing Editor, Digital, Anjali Kapoor, lets them know The Globe's digital team can get the covers online for people to see. "I love that," Geldof says.

Opinion pages

They move back to the meeting table to discuss more content for the paper. Bono asks for a cup of tea, with a drop of milk. Geldof takes his coffee black. Comment Editor Natasha Hassan goes over options for opinion pieces to run in Monday's paper. Christy Turlington has written a piece on maternal health, drawing from her experience filming a documentary in Tanzania. "She's pretty impressive on this subject," Bono says.

Natasha runs the Monday editorial cartoon by Bono and Geldof. They chuckle. "That's funny," Bono says. "I'd like a copy of that, actually."


The business editors walk the guest editors through the plan for Monday's Report on Business. Bob, Bono and Report on Business Editor Elena Cherney discuss ways to best include issues Bono and Bob have highlighted: agriculture, climate and energy.


Bob and Bono move on to sports, and ask about a suggested interview with soccer superstar Didier Drogba from Ivory Coast. The timing of the interview didn't pan out, unfortunately. They talk about other ways to cover the World Cup and Africa.

"It's fever over there, one of the reasons we wanted Drogba is that in the last World Cup they were in the middle of a civil war," Bono says. "But when Côte d'Ivoire qualified, they actually put off their war for it."

Editorial Board

Bono and Bob move into an editorial board meeting with Editorial Board Editor John Geiger, editorial writer Karim Bardeesy and reporter Marina Jimenez. Afterwards, they sit down with Globe correspondent Stephanie Nolen for an interview about the potential of Africa.

Design, round two

Bono and Bob review the two contenders for Monday's front-page design. Designer Devin Slater shows how the design team has tweaked the selected covers in line with Bono and Bob's earlier feedback. They offer a few more suggestions.

Video session

Bono and Bob sit down with John Stackhouse to answer video questions submitted by readers. The Globe's video team records the Q&A, which will be available online on Monday.

Front-page choices

Bono and Bob review their two choices for A1. "What is the feeling in the room here?" Bono asks the editors and designers in the newsroom. They ask for a staff vote on which one they like. The newsroom majority votes for the graphic treatment. Come back on Monday to see the last two choices.

Parting gifts

Bono is running late to catch a flight. John Stackhouse and the editorial staff present the guest editors with a few gifts. The pair thank the newsroom for the opportunity.

He also thanks Stephanie Nolen for participating.

"Stephanie has been one of my influences over the years," he tells the newsroom. "You're very lucky to have her as well as John."

Just before Bono leaves, Bob points out that The Globe's issue on Monday will coincide with Bono's birthday. The newsroom breaks into a chorus of "Happy Birthday" and with that, he's off to the airport.

Stay tuned for the Monday issue for The Africa Century.

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