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The Newspaper That Rules Britain.
March 26, 2012 4:15 PM   Subscribe

MAIL SUPREMACY - How the Daily Mail Conquered England. 'In January, its Web arm, Mail Online, surpassed that of the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world, drawing fifty-two million unique visitors a month. The Mail is the most powerful newspaper in Great Britain. A middle-market tabloid, with a daily readership of four and a half million, it reaches four times as many people as the Guardian, while being taken more seriously than the one paper that outsells it, the Sun. The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News.'

'The Mail is like Fox in the sense that it speaks to, and for, the married, car-driving, homeowning, conservative-voting suburbanite, but it is unlike Fox in that it is not slavishly approving of any political party. One editor told me, “The paper’s defining ideology is that Britain has gone to the dogs.” Nor is the Mail easy to resist. Last year, its lawyers shut down a proxy site that allowed liberals to browse Mail Online without bumping up its traffic.

The Mail presents itself as the defender of traditional British values, the voice of an overlooked majority whose opinions inconvenience the agendas of metropolitan élites. To its detractors, it is the Hate Mail, goading the worst curtain-twitching instincts of an island nation, or the Daily Fail, fuelling paranoia about everything from immigration to skin conditions.'
posted by VikingSword (64 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
One, Liz Jones, recently wrote about stealing her husband’s sperm in an attempt to have a child without his permission, earning her the nickname Jizz Loans.

wtf.
posted by feckless at 4:26 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


In January, its Web arm, Mail Online, surpassed that of the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world, drawing fifty-two million unique visitors a month.

Hmm. Online Mail is a very different beast to the utterly insane print edition, of course, with SEO being more of a focus than right wing frothing.
posted by Artw at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obligatory link to that one scene in Yes, Prime Minister explaining British newspapers.
posted by fight or flight at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [22 favorites]


I wonder if she knows Congressman Les Wynan?
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:28 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Mail’s closest analogue in the American media is perhaps Fox News. In Britain, unlike in the United States, television tends to be a dignified affair, while print is berserk and shouty. The Mail is like Fox in the sense that it speaks to, and for, the married, car-driving, homeowning, conservative-voting suburbanite, but it is unlike Fox in that it is not slavishly approving of any political party.

First bit there bears quite a bit of repeating for US folks - not so sure of that last bit though - they are Tory through and through, it's just their level of support to the current incarnation of the Conservative party that can vary - and of course they're always up for giving someone an oportunistic savaging, especially if it's over some right-wing Bête noire.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a nice song for those not familiar with the Daily Mail.
posted by das1969 at 4:31 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Does Mail Online cause or cure cancer?
posted by dirigibleman at 4:33 PM on March 26, 2012 [8 favorites]


Online Mail is a very different beast to the utterly insane print edition, of course, with SEO being more of a focus than right wing frothing.

Especially the US edition, which is more like a slightly more downmarket and flyover-country targeted version of the Huffington Post than anything to do with the UK print Daily Mail, and is driving a huge proportion of those pageviews.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:35 PM on March 26, 2012


wtf

When considering the alleged Great Cum Caper it is worth bearing in mind that the jury is still out on whether Liz Jones is a delusional fantasist or just a fucking liar.
posted by howfar at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2012


Hurrah for the blackshirts!
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


To its detractors, it is the Hate Mail, goading the worst curtain-twitching instincts of an island nation, or the Daily Fail, fuelling paranoia about everything from immigration to skin conditions.'

Or the Daily Heil, in honour of their vociferous support of Hitler and Oswald Mosley in the 1930s. While they have repudiated fascism as an overt ideology, it's debatable how much of their mindset has changed.
posted by acb at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does Mail Online cause or cure cancer?

Dunno, but some people have suggested that reading the paper can affect your mental health
posted by das1969 at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2012


with SEO being more of a focus than right wing frothing.

Yeah, the 'sidebar of shame'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:42 PM on March 26, 2012


Obligatory Daily Mail Song
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


So until about five years ago, I'd never heard of this newspaper and always thought the line in Paperback Writer, "His son is working for the Daily Mail" meant that he was a postal worker.
posted by octothorpe at 4:44 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hurrah for the blackshirts!


While they have repudiated fascism as an overt ideology, it's debatable how much of their mindset has changed.


Indeed. It is worth noting that Daily Mail and General Trust is still controlled by a Rothermere, the great-grandson of the first Viscount Rothermere, who was personally responsible for authoring the "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" piece. The Mail is quite, quite evil.
posted by howfar at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ooops, sorry didn't see das1969 comment
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2012


Charlie Brooker's Daily Mail Island
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2012 [7 favorites]


Daily Mail headline generator
posted by oliverburkeman at 4:51 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hi fearfulsymmetry, I'm fearful that there seems to be some kind of symmetry to our posts.
posted by das1969 at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2012


Kill or cure? Classifying every inanimate object the Daily Mail thinks cures or causes cancer.

(Spoiler alert: everything.)
posted by fight or flight at 4:54 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Daily Mail headline generator
COULD THE METRIC SYSTEM GIVE COMMON SENSE AND DECENCY DIABETES?
Bloody brilliant!
posted by Talez at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I asked Clarke about the charge, he said that the site adhered to fair-use rules, adding, “We never like to follow a story without improving it, with either new facts, graphics, pictures, or video.”

One of the things I find fascinating about the Mail's website is how they will radically change an article over a matter of hours. For example, in the past few years several friends from university have featured in their gossip pages in "student scandal" exposes. In every instance, the piece online in the morning would bear little resemblance to the work that would be on the website by the evening.

Frequently, the initial postings would have "SHOCKING!" yet titillatingly irrelevant details like "X's parents are thought to earn more than £Y a year!" or in one sordid instance, pictures of an underage girl in a bikini. Later on, those lines would be gone (and the photos were changed to one of her adult self sitting fully clad in an armchair). It is very much a post-first-edit-later strategy; first the egregious grammatical mistakes are removed, and then the story is shaped into a less odious form (presumably as the editors try to reel in their juniors). Never in this process is it acknowledged that editing has occurred. There are no "last changed at" or "updated on" messages.

I don't know whether this is a serious editing strategy or a response to dealing with complaints, but I have seen it in action on multiple occasions. On the one hand, cleaning up the bile that permeates their writing is a good thing. On the other, why would you publish something when it isn't the finished product, and when the first draft is vile? Is the drive to publish first that strong? My cynical side says it's a way to drive up initial page-views while simultaneously mollifying the PCC.

It makes me feel a sense of dislocation because I expect a newspaper to be static and unchanging. Although the Mail Online is a website, it is produced in conjunction with and is consistent with its printed counterpart, and thus (for me) assumes some of the expectations I have about print media. But in the Mail's hands the news is both pliable and dynamic and - crucially - is never revealed as such.
posted by emergent at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Mail is less a parody of itself than a parody of the parody, its rectitudinousness cancelling out others’ ridicule to render a middlebrow juggernaut that can slay knights and sway Prime Ministers.

Jesus. Say what you like about The Daily Mail, but The New Yorker's editing has really gone to the dogs. What a horrible, clumsy, ugly sentence.
posted by Len at 5:01 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Although the author gets props for this:
Some of the paper’s greatest interest arises when Doris hollers back. Harry Simpson, of Northwich, Cheshire, wrote recently:
I’m sick of Melvyn Bragg, Hugh Grant, Joan Bakewell, and Anne Robinson. I’m sick of Vince Cable, the entire Labour Shadow Cabinet, and all the politicians.
I’m sick of squatters and travellers, pop music, the BBC, surveillance cameras, my rotten pension, terrorists, Anglican bishops, and having no money, and I just want to die.
My country, which I loved is ruined. It will never be happy again. It is all self, self, self, moan, moan, moan. I cannot wait to get out and rest in peace.
He had forgotten wind turbines and E.U. bureaucrats.
posted by Len at 5:11 PM on March 26, 2012 [11 favorites]


Both Fox and the Daily Mail (and for that matter many other tabloid rags like the New York Poat) have become successful by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Sex sells. WTF and News of the Weird. Gossip. Celebrities behaving badly. Fearmongering. Snark. Etc., etc.
posted by zarq at 5:39 PM on March 26, 2012


Daily Mail headline generator

ARE THE FRENCH GIVING BRITAIN'S SWANS CANCER?

COULD FACEBOOK TURN THE ROYAL FAMILY GAY?

WILL THE P.C. BRIGADE IMPREGNATE YOUR DAUGHTERS?


Yes, yes, and yes, respectively.
posted by Uppity Pigeon #2 at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I read many Daily Mail links from Fark et al. Why? Because I can count on there always being a picture. Doesn't matter how ridiculous the article is, the Daily Mail always finds at least one picture. Often I only read the headline and think, "Oooh... how the hell did they illustrate this?"

I know that when a Daily Mail link promises cool architecture or amazing vistas the article will deliver with large images embedded right in the page. No crappy flash slide show. No small thumbnail I can barely make out. No wall of text describing what is an inherently visual article (are we not on the internet in the 21st century?).

tl;dr - I go there for the pictures, not the articles. I think better than most online news sites, they get the visual aspect.
posted by sbutler at 6:19 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Especially when the visual aspect involves a woman who is unhappy with her huge breasts, or a woman who is happy with her huge breasts, or a woman who hasn't mentioned her huge breasts at all but does have huge breasts and here are some pictures of them.
posted by dng at 6:27 PM on March 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


sbutler: tl;dr - I go there for the pictures, not the articles. I think better than most online news sites, they get the visual aspect.

dng: Especially when the visual aspect involves a woman who is unhappy with her huge breasts, or a woman who is happy with her huge breasts, or a woman who hasn't mentioned her huge breasts at all but does have huge breasts and here are some pictures of them.

At this point, you're better off just picking up a vintage copy of Playboy. Might as well get some journalism to go along with your tits.
posted by Len at 6:40 PM on March 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I installed KittenBlock on Chrome and now every Daily Mail link I accidentlly click on (perhaps due to an URL shortener) is replaced with a picture of a cup of tea and a picture of a kitten.

The main downside is that I now have no clue what scientists are saying about cancer.
posted by subbes at 7:05 PM on March 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


One of the big flags that the Daily Mail Online had crossed some kind of uncanny transatlantic transdimensional cultural threshold was when Boingboing started non-ironically posting science and technology pieces from the DMO
posted by Bwithh at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Bwithh: "One of the big flags that the Daily Mail Online had crossed some kind of uncanny transatlantic transdimensional cultural threshold was when Boingboing started non-ironically posting science and technology pieces from the DMO"

There was a time when Daily Mail links were not all that uncommon around here, too. It prompted at least one or two posts to MetaTalk, and a comment that spawned a page on the MeFi wiki: Reputability of the Media.

I think part of the problem was that non-UK people weren't all that familiar with the paper and site, and didn't know it as a crappy tabloid.
posted by zarq at 7:53 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem was that non-UK people weren't all that familiar with the paper and site, and didn't know it as a crappy tabloid.

Boingboing's Cory Doctorow may be Canadian but he lives in London and Boingboing has also run anti-Daily Mail posts, yet still the occasional Daily Mail Online piece gets through ...
posted by Bwithh at 8:20 PM on March 26, 2012


Another Yank here who never really heard of the Daily Mail until the Beatles, Paperback Writer. I always thought McCartney was taking the piss about that paper, but is there any one from the UK who can clue me in?
posted by jonp72 at 8:31 PM on March 26, 2012


On the topic of British News.

I sometimes wonder if the decision to rename the communist friendly Daily Worker as The Morning Star near the height of the Cold War was made as a bit of a joke.
posted by Winnemac at 8:33 PM on March 26, 2012


Bwithh: " Boingboing's Cory Doctorow may be Canadian but he lives in London and Boingboing has also run anti-Daily Mail posts, yet still the occasional Daily Mail Online piece gets through ..."

Ah, well. There's no accounting for taste. :)
posted by zarq at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2012


The worst part is that they do a decent job with photos, in that they understand that they're a WEB SITE, and can have big, beautiful graphics, where other news papers still seem to think in print terms, with little icons for photos, which you may or may not be able to enlarge them.

Then again, it may be their attempt to water down the stories with pretty/ engaging/ terrible pictures.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another Yank here who never really heard of the Daily Mail until the Beatles, Paperback Writer. I always thought McCartney was taking the piss about that paper, but is there any one from the UK who can clue me in?

I think this Slate piece (much shorter read than the great New Yorker article in the original post here) was written for yanks like you in mind
posted by Bwithh at 8:36 PM on March 26, 2012


Yes, pandering to small-minded middle-class bigotry and xenophobia is a pretty successful business strategy.
posted by Decani at 10:05 PM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read many Daily Mail links from Fark et al. Why? Because I can count on there always being a picture. Doesn't matter how ridiculous the article is, the Daily Mail always finds at least one picture. Often I only read the headline and think, "Oooh... how the hell did they illustrate this?"
I actually went to the daily mail and found This article about Deadmau5 criticizing Madonna for making an Ecstasy joke at this electronic music festival (and then apologizing)

They had a picture captioned "Not her best angle! Madonna's sag could be seen as she was pictured from the side" Basically showing her in a 'skimpy' outfit with her ass sagging quite a bit. Had nothing to do with the content of the article.
posted by delmoi at 10:31 PM on March 26, 2012


And now for phase two: slowly but steadily drift centre-wards and turn four million raving racist nightmares into proper human beings.

What, there's no phase two? Fuck :(
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:00 AM on March 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


.
posted by telstar at 12:15 AM on March 27, 2012


His first success was a light magazine called Answers to Correspondents on Every Subject Under the Sun, which engaged such questions as how long a severed head could remain conscious after a decapitation.

Hmm, close enough to call it a draw.
posted by dhartung at 12:26 AM on March 27, 2012


Taken more seriously than the Sun! Woo-hoo!

The thing about the Mail is that it actually has no views about anything, it's just trying very hard to give the punters what it thinks they want. It doesn't actually give a shit about the causes of cancer and if middle-class women in the Home Counties somehow turned against the Royal Family, it would turn on a sixpence and tomorrow's edition would be full of ranting republicanism and demands for the guillotine.
posted by Segundus at 1:14 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing about the Mail is that it actually has no views about anything

I reckon this is nearly right, but would suggest a slight tweak. I think the Mail is run on the idea that the fearful and hate-filled are easily exploited and manipulated. It may have no particular political commitments, but its worldview and ideology are still essentially fascistic.
posted by howfar at 1:28 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"middle market"? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! Downmarket.

My housemate reads it. It's remarkable how much more like Simple English wikipedia than English wikipedia it reads. That, and the complete and utter lack of any separation of reporting, analysis, and opinion, with the two latter invariably being presented as the former. It unashamedly chases the lowest common denominator, takes incredibly conflicting stances from one week to the next as their perception of what will cause maximum outrage shifts, and frankly makes the Sun look like an upstanding bastion of journalism.

Decent crossword, though.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 AM on March 27, 2012


The Daily Mail editorial policy as a tube map

The Mail is loathed and admired in equal measures and the contrast with The Guardian - they are each one another's bete noire - is interesting. Where the Grauniad loses money hand over fist, the Mail has successfully - incredibly successfully - managed to create an online business model that has kept it well ahead of the game.

Mostly this is due to the leadership of Paul Dacre, who, while many Fleet St editors do not share his views, is held in grudging high regard for his commercial nous and unwavering sense of what his readers want. Hell, they even fill in the gaps for their readers because they "know" what they are thinking. e.g. "Taxpayer-owned RBS finally scraps its £10-a-head Christmas bash for investment bankers (but what about their £375m bonuses?)"

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2049491/Taxpayer-owned-RBS-finally-scraps-10-head-Christmas-bash.html#ixzz1qIvAoxi7

What is misunderstood about the Mail is the single most important thing (IMHO) that makes it stand out from the rest: it has a picture with every story. Every single one. Behind the scenes who knows what money changes hands in dark alleys but the Mail definitely delivers on that front. Ignoring the substance of the content for a moment the Mail has understood better than any paper that to compete with the supermarket tattle mags or indeed the higher end magazines for eyeball time it's got to be an easy read.

Another little known fact, and I can't remember the name of the book by the Guardian journalist that wrote it, is that libel cases brought against the Daily Mail far exceed any other paper. These are just the ones people bring because they have the cash or the case to be within a chance of winning. The Daily Mail has a large war chest and is ruthless at defending its interests.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:37 AM on March 27, 2012 [7 favorites]


Probably Nick Davies' Flat Earth News?
posted by Mocata at 2:11 AM on March 27, 2012


That's the one. Great book too. Damn my feeble brain for not remembering it.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:20 AM on March 27, 2012


The Daily Mail editorial policy as a tube map

Oh, how interesting! I live at Guardian Readers.
posted by Grangousier at 2:25 AM on March 27, 2012


The Daily Mail editorial policy as a tube map

That's just brilliant! Lovin' this so much that I can't even begin to describe. Heathrow as "throat cancer" is just awesome; also, I've long suspected that people do measure their distance from Prince Philip just as folks measure their distances from Charing Cross. :)
posted by the cydonian at 2:52 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Another Yank here who never really heard of the Daily Mail until the Beatles, Paperback Writer. I always thought McCartney was taking the piss about that paper, but is there any one from the UK who can clue me in?

Well, like he says, it is a "dirty story of a dirty man"...

(Apparently, he put it in the song because Lennon was a Daily Mail reader)
posted by daniel_charms at 3:14 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like the way that Mail Headline Generator phrases every headline as a question. Whenever a newspaper does this, you can be confident the answer to that question is "No".

Sub-editors fall back on the "?" escape clause only when (a) there's nothing in the story that would justify the headline as a straightforward statement and (b) any headline not requiring a question mark would be far too dull.
posted by Paul Slade at 3:22 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


sbutler: tl;dr - I go there for the pictures, not the articles. I think better than most online news sites, they get the visual aspect.

Could that be the first documented application of the "I only use it for the pictures" defence?
posted by londonmark at 4:17 AM on March 27, 2012


Saw this on Twitter this morning. I know the thing about "not reading the bottom half of the internet", but sweet Jesus, Mail Online commenters will be first against the wall when I'm in power.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:20 AM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Over here in the UK (NOT EU!!!) as the country has recently been renamed, the most pervasive poison of the Daily Mail is the way it infects the political mindset. People in government (where I used to work) talk of the "Daily Mail test", which can be roughly translated as "if you take a hugely partisan and partial reading of what we're about to do, sprinkle references to fat-cat bureaucrats and treble any spending, will it make the front page of the Mail?" - and if it would, you don't do it.

Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother.
posted by athenian at 5:33 AM on March 27, 2012


Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh Daily Mail comments. They recently ran a story about a bride who filed for divorce four days after her wedding because she was beaten up by her new husband (who thought she'd been flirting with the best man).

Daily Mail comments? 'Well, she shouldn't have flirted with the best man....'
posted by Summer at 5:57 AM on March 27, 2012


Does Mail Online cause or cure cancer?

YES!
posted by srboisvert at 5:59 AM on March 27, 2012


One, Liz Jones, recently wrote about stealing her husband’s sperm in an attempt to have a child without his permission, earning her the nickname Jizz Loans.

To be fair, this is by some distance not the oddest thing in Liz Jones' recent output, or even the oddest part about that article.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:58 AM on March 27, 2012


Much of the output of the online version of the Mail (oh look, the sun is shining, quick, bring on the pictures of eighteen year olds in their bikinis! oh look, it's A level results day, quick, bring on the pictures of seventeen year olds jumping happily, but only the pretty ones! oh look, here's celebrity in a bikini! oh look, here's some tenuous link between the story and a picture of one of the people involved...in a bikini!) is to allow its male readers to masturbate without:

a) the guilt and shame of looking at real porn
b) getting splashes on the pages of the paper version and not being able to read how Romanian gypsies cause cancer, or
c) the wind blowing the page of the paper version over just at the wrong time, resulting in the hapless reader helplessly and angrily ejaculating all over the face of Richard Littlejohn.
posted by reynir at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2012


Anyone curious about the Mail's journalistic methods should read this article by the victim of a Mail stitch-up:

My response to the journalist was met with a request for a photograph, and after sending it I was told I’d be ideal and that the feature would be a great plug for my business. Unfortunately, rather than promoting my business, the feature made me a laughing stock. I earned a reputation within my community for being a fantasist and a liar, and spent the next two years learning the intricacies of the laws of defamation in order to try and salvage what was left of my reputation.

The most shocking thing about this story is its sheer ordinariness. This is what the Mail will do to anyone if it thinks it can get away with it, and most of the time it does get away with it. We only know about this case because Juliet Shaw was brave enough, and persistent enough, to take it to court.

(The No Sleep 'Til Brooklands blog hasn't been updated for the last three months, sadly, but it's worth trawling the archives for more withering commentary on the Daily Mail: The Daily Mail vs The Gays .. vs Cancer, On the Daily Mail and rape, Liz Jones: murder, disappointing bars and buttons.)
posted by verstegan at 2:47 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Mail is heavily courting the US market. If I view the site here, in the UK, on any given day, there will be pap photos of US stars that are unknown here (Minka Kelly, the Gossellins, Courtney Stodden and other names I only recognise becayse the Smiths in my local train station inexplicably carries US magazine) and are obviously lifted from whatever press service US tabloids use as they give weights (there are always references to weight in these articles) in pounds rather than the more commonly understood stones. Pretty shoddy that they don't even bother adapting for their UK readers, but then there's always guaranteed to be two comments underneath each of these articles:

"Whoooooooooooooooooooo?"

Jim, BROKEN BRITAIN now Cameroon has got his hands on it, About To Emigrate

"DAily mail it is STONES not pounds you are in ENGLAND remember it!"

Septic Tank, UK NOT EU
posted by mippy at 3:46 PM on March 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


NB: The Guardian has a circulation of much less than a million.
posted by mippy at 3:49 PM on March 27, 2012


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