Australia’s sleeping newspaper giant

So which Australian newspaper is failing to fulfil its potential?  

mx_logoAllow me to nominate News Ltd’s free daily commuter title mX.

The model is one that should be a no-brainer for advertisers – mass national distribution to an affluent urban audience.

And it probably does okay commercially. For instance, tonight’s Sydney edition carries the equivalent of about eight page of ads across a 28 page book. And Roy Morgan Research’s readership numbers suggest that there could be a time when it overtakes The Australian Financial Review as Australia’s second biggest national paper behind The Australian – particularly if its distribution pattern continues to widen.

Yet it also still feels like a blocking tactic being run on a shoestring to keep other competitors out.

Compare that to the UK, where the paper mX is modelled on – Metro – is today claimed to be the UK’s most successful newspaper, making an estimated $50m in profit.

The formula is a simple one – distribute enough copies to the right audience, and engage the audience for 20 minutes. That doesn’t demand massive resources, but it does require an understanding of what the audience wants and an effort to give it to them.

The distribution element is there. Go near public transport in Sydney Melbourne or Brisbane and you’ll have a copy of mX thrust into your hand

But the paper presently has a tiny staff.

For the amount of resources – and the target audience – it’s not a bad paper. And the letters page is cult reading.

But as a journalist, it’s frustrating. The news is light. The page two lead today was the LinkedIn press release mentioned on Mumbrella.

There’s not quite enough, I suspect, to keep readers for the magic 20 minutes.

With most editorial ventures, its the product that succeeds while the business model fails. In this case, it’s the other way round.

mX is a sleeping giant.

Tim Burrowes


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