We’ve had both the major newspaper publishers launching new ventures in Brisbane this week. Brisbane now has its own free commuter newspaper, MX, which appears to me to be short on local content, and no doubt reproduces largely what’s in the Sydney and Melbourne versions – news in quick bites for the train home. At least, according to a couple of students I overheard on the bus home from work, it’s providing people with a $16 an hour job handing them out, which isn’t bad compared to the sorts of wages often on offer in the increasingly AWA-ridden sector of retail.

Fairfax has gone down the intertubes route, launching a web newspaper, the innovatively named Brisbane Times. No doubt Peter Beattie’s right to welcome media diversity, but so far, at least, the site appears to be largely a rebadged Fairfax portal. Most of the Queensland news stories are straight feeds from the AAP, with the few written by locally based journos being nothing to write home about – neither breaking news nor anything particularly interesting.

The opinion content is just the Smage stuff, and indeed the venture might be more about competing with News for traffic by putting a local spin on the usual Fairfax fare, than anything more substantive. John Birmingham’s blog might have some promise, though the inaugural post really just says hello. There’s no link accessible to all the blogs from the front page, and Fairfax have followed their usual strategy, with sport poetry personality, Rupert McCall, writing well, stuff, and apparently we’re getting our very own Sam and the City, CityKat:

As a part-time fashion model and a weekend hostess and promotions assistant for one of Brisbane’s swanky riverside bars, Katherine “CityKat” Feeney knows what what works – and what doesn’t – when it comes to attracting the opposite s-x. Whether it’s finding out what a woman really wants from her man; or showcasing the best spots for the perfect date, Kat’s blog will tell you everything you need to know about Brisbane’s dating scene.

That’s from the blurb. The inaugural post is a three-line intro.

It’s hard to work out whether the whole thing has been launched prematurely to counter News’s move (apparently there are 15 journos working on it, so you’d expect a bit more news, and some serious analysis would be really nice), or whether it’s just a feeder for Fairfax’s online strategy. Hopefully the former, but the first blast of the Tocsin doesn’t suggest that anyone in Fairfax land has yet really grasped the potential of the online form.