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mX interview transcript October 5, 2007

Posted by shell in PROCESS JOURNAL.
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MANUFACTURE, PRINTING & DISTRIBUTION

How much does it cost to make one paper? Or a bundle?

Unsure of these amounts

What machinery is required to print and manufacture mX?

The machinery used to manufacture mX is housed at Westgate Park printing plant. (See Herald Sun Learn info)

What time do you have to have the paper to the printers by each day?

The paper is generally needed at the printers by 12.30pm (or as close to that time as possible), but if a breaking news story is received before 1pm, Steve is able to call the plant and stop the press in order to include the new story. Any time after 1pm, it is too late to make changes as printing has already commenced.

How long does it take for the papers to be printed?

Approximately 2hours. If the paper is sent to print at 12, mX can be out on the street by 2pm at the earliest. The papers are printed and are put into the delivery truck straight of the press. The trucks are the immediately sent out to deliver the papers straight to the mX stands. In general the papers are dropped to the stands between 2.30 and 3pm, then at 5pm rounds will be made of the stands to see if they are low, and to top up any empty stands.

How much paper and ink is used per day / week to make mX?

Unsure. (See Herald Sun website for further info).

How many copies of mX are printed and distributed each day?

90,000 copies of mX are printed each working day.

How many locations is mX distributed to?

Unsure of exact amount.
There are young people employed to hand out mX at some of the train stations and around the city. These people are called samplers and are paid $20 an hour.
In Sydney the main form of distribution is thought these employees, rather than the successful stands used in Melbourne.

How many mX stands are there in Melbourne?

Unsure, but there are several stands at each of the CBD train stations (as well as Richmond station). There are also many stands positioned on street corners within the Melbourne CBD.

Customers often ask why they cannot pick up mX from locations outside the city. Steve wanted to expand the distribution area, but it was decided that for now mX was comfortable being seen as a city only paper.

Does Connex (or the railways stations) or the city of Melbourne pay for the stands?

No, neither Connex, the railway stations nor the city of Melbourne pay for the stands.

How much are the stands worth?

mX received all of the stands free of charge, as they asked for them for free, not expecting and results, however the suppliers turned out to be obliging!

Are the papers distributed straight from the printing plant to the mX stands?

Yes, they are.

LEGAL ISSUES

What sort of stories / articles has mX been banned from publishing, if any?

MX is not a particularly political paper (in fact they refer to themselves as a light paper) and tends to report on the lighter side of any news and current affairs. They like to push the boundaries with their articles and headlines and have no problems calling people stupid or any other slightly derogatory names, as the young target audience “get it”. This is similar to television timeslots allowing for content to be more provocative later at night.

As mX is self-edited, they have never had a ban put on an article by and outside party. The editors sometimes decided to pull a story if they believe it is not in the public’s best interest or if there is a risk of any legal action being taken against them. The editors need to weigh up the risk of running articles and at the end of the day decide if the risk and any consequences with be worth it or of any benefit to the paper. Anything (article or photo) that is “unfit for public consumption” is generally avoided.

Sometimes a photo may be pulled due to being too graphic or provocative. MX is aware that as their paper is free and distributed at train stations, many reader leave their copy sitting on the train for someone else to read. As such a 10-year-old child could potentially pick up the paper, so mX has to be sensitive in its subject matter.

Does mX receive many reader complaints about the content of articles and / or images?

Most days mX receives minor complaints from members of the public. Sometimes people miss the point of an mX story (as some of the stories can be sarcastic) and have issues with the articles. Some complaints are received that the paper should focus on more serious / important news, but again these people have missed the entire point of the paper. Petty issues such as the time mX accidentally spoiled the ending of a US TV show resulted in customer complaints, and photos such as an image of Spanish bull fighting has caused issues with some readers.

Does mX have its own trademark, copyright, patents etc?

Unsure

What are the laws regarding newspapers / censorship etc?

As mX is a free paper any legal action taken against them could render the whole publication defunct, so it is beat to avoid situations that could lead to a lawsuit. A common defence used by newspapers is that the article was in the best public interest and that citizens are entitled to know the truth.

MX has layers who are on call 24/7 in case the editors are unsure about a story. If the layers advise mX not to run an article it is pulled from the paper.

Issues such as defamation (an attack on somebody’s good name, character, or reputation) need to be taken into consideration when writing articles for any publication. (You are not allowed to defame a deceased person).

Examples include a story about Tom Cruise. MX was reporting that a book was to be published containing rumours that he is gay. Even though mX was simply relaying the story (and they did not condone the rumour), they were advised by the layers to pull the article, as Tom Cruise and his posse are notorious for suing anyone who makes even the slightest derogatory remarks.

Other articles such as reports about Shane Warne being a sex addict could be printed as it was already in the public domain.

EXTRA INFO

MX has been running for 6 years in Melbourne, and for 18 months in Sydney.

MX stands for metro-express (at start up it stood for Melbourne express, but as the paper is now in Sydney as well, the name changed. SX couldn’t be used for obvious reasons.)

A reader survey of mX customers revealed the Goss and Glam is the most read and popular section of the paper, and as such lots of people tend to read mX backwards as it is located on the back page. Due to this response mX has started to include more celebrity stuff in the news section at the beginning of the paper.

As mX is the only afternoon paper still in operation, they are often the first to receive stories that happen in the morning. This gives them a good leg up on the competition. For example when the miners were trapped in the Beaconsfield mine, mX was the first to publish the news that they were found alive, and were also the first to print when they were finally freed. Sometimes if a news story occurs immediately after mX has been sent to print, the presses can be stopped in order for a new cover to be printed. (An example of this is the recent Peter Brock funeral. As the first photos didn’t come into the office until 1pm, mX was on standby to quickly drop in the new pics and article, and the cover reprinted. Apparently a few hundred copies of the original cover were distributed, but the rest managed to be the Brock cover.)

Mx’s future plan is to go national and have mX running in every capital city around Australia. If this happens, mX is unsure if they will be able to operate all of the papers from Melbourne, or if they will have to have large teams scattered around the country. Also mX is looking to launch a website but need further funding to do so as it is very expensive, particularly as the site is to be news based and would need to be updated on a daily basis.

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