Farewell MX

Feebie afternoon commuter newspaper MX finishes its run today after 14 years of publishing in Melbourne (and shorter runs in Brisbane and Sydney).

Melbourne Express was its awkward morning competitor for a short time in 2001 — it was never going to last because morning distribution is so difficult. That brand name lives on in The Age’s morning updates.

Some may mock MX for being overly filled with show-biz news and lifestyle stories, but for years it had a good team of local reporters, and their focus on public transport-using readers meant they always gave the PTUA a good run, often on the front page. It was a great way to reach a key demographic… for advertisers too, of course.

Here are some of the more (for me) memorable stories:

30/8/2005: East-west tunnel? Or public transport? It’s a debate that’s been around for a while.
MX: road tunnel, or public transport (30/8/2005)

11/10/2006: Celebrating the PTUA’s 30th anniversary
MX: 30 years of PTUA (11/10/2006)

23/5/2011: When the PTUA’s “Problem Of The Day” poked holes in the new tram network map, MX went Full Tabloid on it:
MX: Map of crap (23/5/2011)

2/6/2011: And this one, critiquing in detail the screens at Southern Cross Station:
MX: Southern Cross screens (2/6/2011)

Alas, their coverage of local news changed somewhat earlier this year when MX had a revamp. Recently there’s been little local content in it; indeed it appears much of the paper has been a generic Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane production.

MX of course had other uses. Some would get it every day just for the crosswords. You could wave it angrily at cars that failed to stop at zebra crossings. You could use it to cover that horrible-looking stuff on the train seat.

Litter could be a problem on evening trains, though MX probably helped the push for recycle bins to be installed at suburban stations. (And litter on trains is unlikely to just vanish when MX is gone.)

Perhaps with the recent proliferation of smart phones (iPhones were still six years away when MX launched) it’s not surprising it’s wrapping up.

It’s hard to break news if you go to press at midday for distribution to people at 4-5pm when many of your readers will have seen the same stories at lunchtime on their phones and computers.

Notably, News Corporation has been advertising news.com.au heavily around public transport recently.

So long MX, it’s been nice knowing you.

And to all the journos there I dealt with over the years, past and present: Erin, Hanna, Inga, Lachlan, Maria, Michelle, Nadia, Rebecca and any I might have forgotten (and/or not saved in my phone!) — thank you and good luck!

PS:

Old photos from January 2004

Another batch of photos from ten years ago: January 2004.

My old kitchen in the house I rented in Carnegie for two years, with the horrible lime green bench tops. Also showing old toaster, the old milk I used to buy, an old land line phone (now plugged into the VOIP modem/router) and the kettle — at the time, shiny new (I’d got it for Christmas), and still in service.
My old kitchen (January 2004)

Degraves Street in the city. Hasn’t changed much.
Degraves Street (January 2004)

Flinders Lane, also hasn’t changed much.
Flinders Lane (January 2004)

Ditto Centre Place, though these days at lunchtime on a sunny day it seems much busier. (I originally posted this pic back then.)
Centre Place, lunchtime (January 2004)

City skyline from Quarry Park in Footscray, looking down the Maribyrnong. Pre wheel.
City skyline from Footscray Park (January 2004)

I’ve also got a massive camera stitch pan from the same spot. Well worth a look.

Same spot, Maisie the Dog looks down on the just-started Edgewater Estate. Today that area is full of houses.
Maisie the Dog looks over Edgewater Estate (January 2004)

A shot from Mollison Street, Kyneton, showing the old Westpac (Bank Of New South Wales) and Commonwealth banks:
Mollison Street, Kyneton (January 2004)

Compare to a more recent pic from Google Streetview, which shows the Bank of NSW facade nicely restored:
Mollison Street, Kyneton (Google Streetview)

(I posted another photo from Kyneton that day: Spotted in Kyneton — just another hazard for the cyclists to watch out for: horse shit in the bike lane.)

Finally, as I noted at the time, on January 19th 2003 2004, MX ran a fun article about etiquette on public transport:
MX 19/1/2004

Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is a good example of a moral issue that for me is more grey than black and white.

I would like to think that I would never wish anybody dead, nor be glad at hearing of someone’s demise.

But if ever I were to waver on that, it would be for someone who caused the deaths of thousands of people.

There are questions over the operation of course. At first they seemed to be claiming that he was armed, and used a woman as a human shield. Now they’re saying he was unarmed… but reaching for a gun?

The compound was described in some reports as a “mansion”. Gotta say it doesn’t look much like a mansion to me.

The future

I think we all know it doesn’t mean the end for al-Qaeda of course, nor for global terrorism.

But as some commentators have said, perhaps other events are overtaking them. Perhaps we can hope that the democracy movement and protests in Egypt and elsewhere will continue to spread, bringing change to the Middle East that makes extremists obsolete and/or marginalised, as most of them are in democracies around the world?

MX

Have to pity MX. The biggest story of the week, and it was breaking just as they were going to press. Normally they have their stories written by midday, but this was emerging at about 12:30pm, and wasn’t confirmed until about an hour later.

Credit to them though; they managed to re-do their front page (though I saw some copies without the OBL story). However they obviously got the page done before the detail was confirmed, as it referred to bin Laden’s death being a week earlier, using a bomb, citing Fox News’s “multiple sources”.

MX: bin Laden dead

Whoops. I suppose in that situation you just have to do what you can.