Newspapers need saving. The internet is coming, and newspaper readership is plummeting. mX was meant to be that saviour.
The grand plan was that a whole hoard of young, internet savvy, newspaper allergic under thirties would get hooked on a free paper then be all like, “They’re like pixels you can touch. The screen is bigger and it’s better resolution. WOW.”
Instead, mX readership has slowly dropped away and the largest media company in the world has decided that the experiment is over. The bridge between paid for newspapers and the internet isn’t being using enough so it’s being demolished, and this is no fault of the mX team.
It was a tricky line to tread. Be irreverent but still informative, keep it short, snappy and engaging while trying to drop in the odd something important.
On and off I wrote the ‘For What It’s Worth’ column for around three years. Nobody told me what to write, and I was able to sneak in some rather subversive ideas covering topics like climate change, protests, football and football. You know, the important stuff.
Through that column I was able to reach an estimated audience of over 500,000, and nothing I’ve written since has garnered the same amount of positive feedback. As a writer and comedian I try and reach as many as possible with what I hope is a meaningful message, and mX was an amazing avenue for me to reach out to an audience who were still forming their ideas and struggling with issues – that holy grail of demographics: 16 to 34.
Artists in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane will be particularly upset, as few other media outlets offered such direct and numerous opportunities to reach out of potential audiences. Some upstart free publication may try to be the bridge, but now that mX has been shut down, it is doubtful that any will succeed. All that’s left is to watch and wait, as other free papers around the world also fail.
The internet is taking over. In ten years, or maybe only five, we will no longer be asking what’s in the newspaper that day. Children instead will be asking, ‘What’s a newspaper?’
I’m still in touch with outgoing mX Editor-in-Chief Craig Herbert, who offered up these words: “It’s been an amazing ride home every night with our hundreds of thousands of readers over many years, but we pull into our last station on Friday, June 12.
“Since the announcement two weeks ago of our closure, we have been overwhelmed by the many, many messages of support, sadness and sincerity from our loyal and amazing readers of the paper and the app in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
“It’s extremely difficult to come to terms with saying goodbye, but all staff of mX – both present and past – have enjoyed every day of working on mX since it first began in Melbourne in 2001. Like our readers, we will sorely miss the fun and creativity of a truly unique piece of the Australia media landscape.
“Here’s looking at all of you.”
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian.