Dec 5, 2013

Journalism crack: exposing the Daily Mail‘s dark arts

How did the trashy, uber-tabloid Mail Online become the most-read newspaper website in the world? We take a look at the top 10 reasons for its phenomenal success on the eve of an Australian launch.

Matthew Knott

Former Crikey media reporter

Australian web users may not be overly familiar with Mail Online, but they're about to be. The UK Daily Mail's internet offshoot, already the most popular newspaper website in the world, is launching in Australia next year. Crikey takes a look at the top 10 reasons for the site's success ... 1. Separate but equal. The Daily Mail was initially dismissive of the web, with editor Paul Dacre famously proclaiming in 1999:  "A lot of people say that the Internet is the future for newspapers. Well, I say to that:" Until 2007, the paper's website,, was essentially a limited rehash of that day's paper.  The site was slow to load, lacked flexibility and trailed behind The Guardian and The Telegraph in online readership. But the paper had a rethink and commissioned a top digital creative agency to review its web offering. A key decision was separating the Mail's web and print operations: a stand-alone editorial team was hired, and the site was rebranded as Mail Online. The site was allowed to develop its own unique personality and focus more on celebrity than the right-wing politics the paper is famous for. According to the New Yorker, only 25% of the site's stories originated in the paper. The lack of integration has allowed the site to cultivate a younger, more affluent, more female-skewed audience. 2. Celebrity sells. It doesn't matter how trivial it is: if a celebrity is doing something, anything, the Mail will run it. Most of these stories appear on the site's famously addictive "sidebar of shame", which editor Martin Clarke prefers to call the the "right rail of genius". Here are some selections from today:

Although obsessed by celebrities, the Mail is far from reverential about them. The site loves to cover flashes of cellulite, "nip slips" and other embarrassing mishaps. 3. Make it weird. But don't think the Mail doesn't cover regular punters, too. The site loves human interest stories that are tragic and/or wacky. If sex is involved, even better. Here are some examples from today:

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Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “Journalism crack: exposing the Daily Mail‘s dark arts

  1. zut alors

    It’s hard to imagine the habitual Mail reader has an adequate attention span to complete reading a 40-word headline.

  2. John Taylor

    Given the superficiality to which this country has fallen the Daily Mail will do well.

  3. Keith Thomas

    That’s how it attracts readers/visitors.

    But how does it make money?

  4. Patrick

    Dumb and getting dumber.

  5. Lubo Gregor

    Oh gosh, I feel sorry for you having to even look at their website. It would make me bleed from my ears. I too think they will do well in this country *sigh*

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