My favourite free daily afternoon newspaper (honestly, it’s the only one I know of – but still) owned and produced by News Corp, will soon cease to exist. For fourteen years, mX has been dedicated to “taking readers’ minds off their busy day. That’s been our passion and commitment to you ever since, but the rapid growth and distraction of mobile devices has applied too much pressure for us to continue.” Insert: heartbreak.
Targeted at commuters, mX is handed-out at train-stations – like in black-and-white movies of the olden days – and piled on busy corners of the city for people to read on their journeys home after long, hectic days. It’s like stepping back in time. As a city newcomer I’ve grown to love reading mX. It’s a daily treat; easy to read, an enjoyable distraction from social media and a little glimmer of hope for me as a future writer/journalist that print-form newspapers aren’t dead. Yet, anyway.
The most wonderful thing about mX – despite its being a free source of news and entertainment – is its relationship with its readers. (I will continue to use the present tense out of respect; it’s not their fault this relationship has had to end. It’s ours entirely.) Each issue includes a reader-written column, “For What It’s Worth” and a two-page “Talk” section towards the back, dedicated to the thoughts and comments of the paper’s dedicated readers. What I’ll miss most are mX‘s “Overheard” and “Here’s Looking At You” sections. Though I read mX front-to-back, I turn each page in anticipation of these feel-good, corny (in the best kind of way) bits. “Overheard” provides a summary of some of the funnier things overheard on public transport, submitted by passengers. I recognise the out-loud laughter as my fellow commuters read this section, too.
Schoolgirl 1: “Real-life social interaction is when you give a tomato to your neighbour and you say ‘Hey, how are you?'”
Schoolgirl 2: “Oh, ok.”
“Here’s Looking At You” is a lovely – literally – section in which commuters submit anonymous declarations of love to fellow commuters, for example: “To the brown-haired girl wearing a white scarf and black everything else who got off at Springvale on Wednesday night. I was the long-haired guy in the leather jacket who couldn’t keep my eyes off you…if you couldn’t tell.” It melts my heart and I’m going to miss it. I’m embarrassed to admit but I little part of me reads that section half looking for a love-declaration directed at me; “To the cute girl with messy brown hair and spotty orange back-pack who often looks confused”. I guess the highly probable chances of that are no more. Alas, the death of print brings with it the death of love. Now do you see where I’m coming from?
I know it’s dramatic to be grieving a newspaper as one might grieve a dead person, but for me, it’s a suitable comparison. It is my ultimate dream, and hopefully a realistic one, to have my words published in print. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful for our modern-ability to self-publish via this means of the Internet, but for me, it’s just not the same. I can’t wait for the day I see my name printed above a feature piece in a magazine, or printed on the front-cover of a hard, real-life book. I’ve got this idea in my head – and I don’t think it’s an entirely silly one – that I’m not a writer until my words are printed. That is, until they’re sitting on household bookshelves alongside other real books. I was already stressed by the idea that my writing might not be good enough to print, and now I’m extra stressed because there’s suddenly this threatening death of print entirely.
And now I’ve started to feel guilty that by having a blog and doing the majority of my writing (make that all of it) online, I’m contributing to this slow death of print. They’re still words, I suppose, but by feeding them into this online bubble, am I taking them from the world of print and in turn contributing to its death? I don’t mean to go all post-modern-philosophy on you but these are genuine thoughts and I need some sort of confirmation that they’re ridiculous. I guess a way of getting around this could be to write in journals, which I do do sometimes, but then I don’t get the same satisfaction I get on here, knowing you’re reading what I’m writing. You see I don’t want to write for me. I want to write for you. And maybe one day that will be in the form of a book but at the moment, that seems like a long, long way away.
Sorry, reader. That all escalated much too quickly. I just got quite sad when I read about mX being on its deathbed and I needed some sort of cyber-hug. I’m not exactly sure if that’s a thing or a concept I made up entirely but it sounds kind of nice but more so kind of creepy so maybe let’s abort cyber-hug mission and just know that we’re thinking of each other instead. I guess hugs, like words, are much better off being physical.
I want to end this by sharing the parting words of Craig Herbert, mX’s Editor-in-Chief (apparently that’s not meant to be capitalised but if I ever hold the title of Editor-in-Chief, it damn well will be!).
“It’s been a fun and frenetic journey for all who have had the privilege to work on mX over the years, and every single member of the mX family is gutted by the decision to pull down the curtain. Thanks for picking us up and for all the genuine messages of support flooding in from our amazing readers.”