Idea Bombing Newcastle - March 20th, 2015 / by Kian West

"What is the value of Print Media?" Below you will find the notes that made up our Idea Bombing presentation from March 20th in The Press Book House on Hunter Street in the heart of Newcastle. If you are unfamiliar, Idea Bombing is an event that invites a series of people to speak about an idea and highlight potential ways that this "Problem" might be solved such as "Newcastle after Dark" or "What is the value of Print Media" as we solved, and so did The Follower Newspaper, 2hrsNorth, and White Magazine. After the four presentations the audience is asked to "Idea Bomb"  a wall with their suggestions of ways the city or idea could evolve or change.


Kian West & Ryan Williams (Newcastle Mirage)

(Kian West & Ryan Williams)


Where did it all start?

It was some time January 2013, Ryan and I had developed a bit of a habit for catching up weekly on Darby Street for coffee. We had been working on several projects together for a while… One day I highlighted that Reverb, a Newcastle/Central Coast based street-press, had ceased its print version back in September 2012 and it puzzled me as to why… Well, not exactly since it doesn’t take much to work out print is expensive and thus you need to find lots of advertisers to pay for it before you even start on paying salaries.

So I threw the idea at Ryan and we started talking regularly about it…

Months later the idea hadn’t gone away, but the math just didn’t add up, there was no way we could find enough advertisers quickly enough that we didn’t end up with some $500,000 debt… It was probably about March where we suddenly changed our framework, what if we made a limited edition print, more like a couple of 1000 rather than 50,000, built loyalty and solid distribution points and scaled up. At the same time operating under a “Zine” style structure we could print at low cost thus low risk. It’s also about then that our Ethos started to arise

1. All our articles would be positive, since Newcastle is full of this tall-poppy syndrome, negative whinge effect where everyone chips away at one another and no one celebrates the wins of the community.

  1. All articles would be about Newcastle and Novocastrians, because lets face it there is enough awesome going on in our city to not have to write about the latest Nick Cave tour. Funnily enough in the last 2 years the “People of New York” has arrived and in some ways it highlights that it is possible to have an inward focus and yet still capture the attention of a country or the World.


What is in a name?

So it’s about March and the idea was still with us, we had decided to have a crack at this “Art and Culture Zine” idea and we had a basic plan. But we needed a name. We were starting to think of ourselves as a bit of an oasis for local culture, for Novocastrians to read positive stuff about Newcastle and we were going to be creating a limited production, a bit of a blink and you miss it so one of the ideas that was thrown around was a “Mirage” this image of an Oasis in the distance, but you blink and it is gone. Plus the URL was available and no one had registered the business name so it kind of stuck.



Why Print?

We should really start by saying for Mirage it isn’t all about print, while our focus is on a print product we create monthly, on time every time, it is all about a bigger picture that ties in with social media, email channels and our website. Because, while we want everyone to read our little magazine, we know we need to connect with a larger audience and drive them to it.

Print is probably only 60% of what we do, but it is the most important. It drives everything else around it, but we spend a lot of time ensuring that other channels are nurtured because you never know what is just around the corner.

That said, we love print, it wouldn’t work in digital because it is so important that tactile moment, that people treasure Mirage for Months or years to come. That our audience comes to understand they have something very limited and potentially of value in years to come. We know this is already happening because people already contact us trying to find copies of editions gone by to complete the set, it’s why we have a subscription option.


Why Print isn’t dead?

The more digital comes into play the more we seek that analogue experience. There is a lot of similarity to be drawn from the music industry, while many people are happy to jump on spotify, or buy via iTunes, there are just as many people still using CDs as a primary format and vinyl is totally coming back. For Mirage, we think it is all about the moment, that sense of touch that connects with the smell or the feel that becomes a memory. It’s much more rare to achieve this with digital.



"What is the value of Print Media?"

To us, everything we have just talked about is the value, it’s the treasure, it’s the memories, it’s what draws us back to it again and again.