Daily Mail and General Trust
4 May 1896; 120 years ago (1896-05-04)
The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust and published in London. First published in 1896 by Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe, and his brother Harold Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982. Scottish and Irish editions of the daily paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. The Daily Mail was Britain's first daily newspaper aimed at the newly literate "lower-middle class market resulting from mass education, combining a low retail price with plenty of competitions, prizes and promotional gimmicks", and was the first British paper to sell a million copies a day.
- Early history
- Before 1930
- Support of fascism
- Post war history
- Scottish Daily Mail
- Irish Daily Mail
- Continental and Overseas Daily Mail
- Mail Today
- Editorial stance
- Holes in the road
- Unification Church
- Gay gene controversy
- Stephen Lawrence
- Jan Moir
- Cannabis use
- Ralph Miliband controversy
- Gawker Media lawsuit
- Anti refugee cartoon
- Anthony Weiner scandal
- Successful lawsuits against the Mail
- Unsuccessful lawsuits
- Pending lawsuits
- Racism accusations
- Homophobia accusations
- Other criticisms
- Regular cartoon strips
- Year Book
- Online media
- Notable regular contributors present
- Past writers
Jonathan Harmsworth, 4th Viscount Rothermere, a great-grandson of the one of the co-founders, is the current chairman and controlling shareholder of the Daily Mail and General Trust, though day-to-day editorial decisions for the newspaper are usually made by a team around the editor, Paul Dacre.
It was aimed at both men and women from the outset, was the first to provide features especially for women, and in the second half of 2013 had a 54.77% female readership, the only British newspaper whose female readers constitute more than 50% of its demographic. A survey in 2014 found the average age of its reader was 58, and it had the lowest demographic for 15-44 year olds among the major British dailies. It had an average daily circulation of 1,510,824 copies in November 2016. Between July and December 2013 it had an average daily readership of approximately 3.951 million, of whom approximately 2.503 million were in the ABC1 demographic and 1.448 million in the C2DE demographic. Its website has more than 100 million unique visitors per month.
The Daily Mail has been accused of racism, and printing sensationalist and inaccurate scare stories of science and medical research.
The Mail was originally a broadsheet but switched to a compact format on 3 May 1971, the 75th anniversary of its founding. On this date it also absorbed the Daily Sketch, which had been published as a tabloid by the same company. The publisher of the Mail, the Daily Mail and General Trust, is currently a FTSE 250 company. The paper has a circulation of around two million, which is the fourth largest circulation of any English-language daily newspaper in the world.
Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in March 2014 show gross daily sales of 1,708,006 for the Daily Mail. According to a December 2004 survey, 53% of Daily Mail readers voted for the Conservative Party, compared to 21% for Labour and 17% for the Liberal Democrats. The main concern of Viscount Rothermere, the current chairman and main shareholder, is that the circulation be maintained. He testified before a House of Lords select committee that "we need to allow editors the freedom to edit", and therefore the newspaper's editor was free to decide editorial policy, including its political allegiance. The Mail has been edited by Paul Dacre since 1992.
The Daily Mail, devised by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) and his brother Harold (later Lord Rothermere), was first published on 4 May 1896. It was an immediate success. It cost a halfpenny at a time when other London dailies cost one penny, and was more populist in tone and more concise in its coverage than its rivals. The planned issue was 100,000 copies but the print run on the first day was 397,215 and additional printing facilities had to be acquired to sustain a circulation which rose to 500,000 in 1899. Lord Salisbury, 19th-century Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, dismissed the Daily Mail as "a newspaper produced by office boys for office boys." By 1902, at the end of the Boer Wars, the circulation was over a million, making it the largest in the world.
With Harold running the business side of the operation and Alfred as Editor, the Mail from the start adopted an imperialist political stance, taking a patriotic line in the Second Boer War, leading to claims that it was not reporting the issues of the day objectively. From the beginning, the Mail also set out to entertain its readers with human interest stories, serials, features and competitions (which were also the main means by which the Harmsworths promoted the paper).
In 1900 the Daily Mail began printing simultaneously in both Manchester and London, the first national newspaper to do so (in 1899, the Daily Mail had organised special trains to bring the London-printed papers north). The same production method was adopted in 1909 by the Daily Sketch, in 1927 by the Daily Express and eventually by virtually all the other national newspapers. Printing of the Scottish Daily Mail was switched from Edinburgh to the Deansgate plant in Manchester in 1968 and, for a while, The People was also printed on the Mail presses in Deansgate. In 1987, printing at Deansgate ended and the northern editions were thereafter printed at other Associated Newspapers plants.
In 1906 the paper offered £1,000 for the first flight across the English Channel and £10,000 for the first flight from London to Manchester. Punch magazine thought the idea preposterous and offered £10,000 for the first flight to Mars, but by 1910 both the Mail's prizes had been won. (For full list see Daily Mail aviation prizes.)
Before the outbreak of World War I, the paper was accused of warmongering when it reported that Germany was planning to crush the British Empire. When war began, Northcliffe's call for conscription was seen by some as controversial, although he was vindicated when conscription was introduced in 1916. On 21 May 1915 Northcliffe criticised Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, regarding weapons and munitions. Kitchener was considered by some to be a national hero. The paper's circulation dropped from 1,386,000 to 238,000. Fifteen hundred members of the London Stock Exchange burned unsold copies and called for a boycott of the Harmsworth Press. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith accused the paper of being disloyal to the country.
When Kitchener died, the Mail reported it as a great stroke of luck for the British Empire. The paper was critical of Asquith's conduct of the war, and he resigned on 5 December 1916. His successor David Lloyd George asked Northcliffe to be in his cabinet, hoping it would prevent him from criticising the government. Northcliffe declined.
As Lord Northcliffe aged, his grip on the paper slackened and there were periods when he was not involved. But light-hearted stunts enlivened him, such as the 'Hat campaign' in the winter of 1920. This was a contest with a prize of £100 for a new design of hat — a subject in which Northcliffe took a particular interest. There were 40,000 entries and the winner was a cross between a top hat and a bowler christened the Daily Mail Sandringham Hat. The paper subsequently promoted the wearing of it but without much success. In 1922, when Lord Northcliffe died, Lord Rothermere took full control of the paper.
In 1919 Alcock and Brown made the first flight across the Atlantic, winning a prize of £10,000 from the Daily Mail. In 1930 the Mail made a great story of another aviation stunt, awarding another prize of £10,000 to Amy Johnson for making the first solo flight from England to Australia.
The Daily Mail had begun the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1908. At first, Northcliffe had disdained this as a publicity stunt to sell advertising and he refused to attend. But his wife exerted pressure upon him and he changed his view, becoming more supportive. By 1922 the editorial side of the paper was fully engaged in promoting the benefits of modern appliances and technology to free its female readers from the drudgery of housework. The Mail maintained the event until selling it to Media 10 in 2009.
On 25 October 1924 the Daily Mail published the forged Zinoviev letter, which indicated that British Communists were planning violent revolution. This was thought by some a significant factor in the defeat of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party in the 1924 general election, held four days later.
From 1923 Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail formed an alliance with the other great press baron, Lord Beaverbrook. Their opponent was the Conservative Party politician and leader Stanley Baldwin. By 1929 George Ward Price was writing in the Mail that Baldwin should be deposed and Beaverbrook elected as leader. In early 1930 the two Lords launched the United Empire Party which the Daily Mail supported enthusiastically.
The rise of the new party dominated the newspaper and, even though Beaverbrook soon withdrew, Rothermere continued to campaign. Vice Admiral Ernest Augustus Taylor fought the first by-election for the United Empire Party in October, defeating the official Conservative candidate by 941 votes. Baldwin's position was now in doubt, but in 1931 Duff Cooper won the key by-election at St George's, Westminster, beating the United Empire Party candidate, Sir Ernest Petter, supported by Rothermere, and this broke the political power of the press barons.
In 1927, the celebrated picture of the year Morning by Dod Procter was bought by the Daily Mail for the Tate Gallery.
Support of fascism
Lord Rothermere was a friend of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, and directed the Mail's editorial stance towards them in the early 1930s. Rothermere's 1933 leader "Youth Triumphant" praised the new Nazi regime's accomplishments, and was subsequently used as propaganda by them. In it, Rothermere predicted that "The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing upon Germany". Journalist John Simpson, in a book on journalism, suggested that Rothermere was referring to the violence against Jews and Communists rather than the detention of political prisoners.
Rothermere and the Mail were also editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists. Rothermere wrote an article titled "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" in January 1934, praising Mosley for his "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine", and pointing out that: "Young men may join the British Union of Fascists by writing to the Headquarters, King's Road, Chelsea, London, S.W."
The Spectator condemned Rothermere's article commenting that, "...the Blackshirts, like the Daily Mail, appeal to people unaccustomed to thinking. The average Daily Mail reader is a potential Blackshirt ready made. When Lord Rothermere tells his clientele to go and join the Fascists some of them pretty certainly will."
The paper's support ended after violence at a BUF rally in Kensington Olympia in June 1934. Mosley and many others thought Rothermere had responded to pressure from Jewish businessmen who it was believed had threatened to stop advertising in the paper if it continued to back an anti-Semitic party. The paper nonetheless continued to oppose the arrival of Jewish refugees escaping Germany, describing their arrival as "a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed."
On 5 May 1946 the Daily Mail celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Winston Churchill was the chief guest at the banquet and toasted it with a speech: That era also featured a smaller Daily Mail, as while the Mail of 1896 was eight pages, the Mail of 1946 was four pages.
The Daily Mail was transformed by its editor during the 1970s and 1980s, David English. He had been editor of the Daily Sketch from 1969 to 1971, when it closed. Part of the same group from 1953, the Sketch was absorbed by its sister title, and English became editor of the Mail, a post in which he remained for more than 20 years. English transformed it from a struggling newspaper selling half as many copies as its mid-market rival, the Daily Express, to a formidable publication, whose circulation rose to surpass that of the Express by the mid-1980s. English was knighted in 1982.
The paper enjoyed a period of journalistic success in the 1980s, employing some of the most inventive writers in old Fleet Street including the gossip columnist Nigel Dempster, Lynda Lee-Potter and sportswriter Ian Wooldridge (who unlike some of his colleagues—the paper generally did not support sporting boycotts of white-minority-ruled South Africa—strongly opposed apartheid). In 1982 a Sunday title, the Mail on Sunday, was launched (the Scottish Sunday Mail, now owned by the Mirror Group, was founded in 1919 by the first Lord Rothermere, but later sold.)
Sir David English became editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers in 1992 after Rupert Murdoch had attempted to hire Evening Standard editor Paul Dacre as editor of The Times, The Evening Standard was then part of the same group, and Dacre was appointed to succeed English as a means of dealing with Murdoch's offer. Dacre remains the editor of the Daily Mail and subsequently became editor-in-chief of the group after English died.
In late 2013 the paper moved its London printing operation from the city's Docklands area to a new £50 million plant in Thurrock, Essex. There are Scottish editions of both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, with different articles and columnists.
In August 2016 the Daily Mail began a partnership with The People's Daily, the official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party. This includes publishing articles in the MailOnline produced by The People's Daily. The agreement has been suggested to give the paper an edge in publishing news stories sourced out of China, but also led to questions of censorship regarding politically sensitive topics. In November 2016 Lego ended a series of promotions in the paper which had run for years following campaigning from a group called 'Stop Funding Hate', who were unhappy with the Mail's coverage of migrant issues and the EU referendum.
Scottish Daily Mail
The Scottish Daily Mail was published as a separate title from Edinburgh starting in December 1946. The circulation was poor though, falling to below 100,000 and the operation was rebased to Manchester in December 1968. In 1995 the Scottish Daily Mail was relaunched, and is printed in Glasgow. With a circulation in December 2009 of 113,771, it has the third-highest daily newspaper sales in Scotland.
Irish Daily Mail
The Daily Mail officially entered the Irish market with the launch of a local version of the paper on 6 February 2006; free copies of the paper were distributed on that day in some locations to publicise the launch. Its masthead differed from that of UK versions by having a green rectangle with the word "IRISH", instead of the Royal Arms, but this was later changed, with "Irish Daily Mail" displayed instead. The Irish version includes stories of Irish interest alongside content from the UK version. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Irish edition had a circulation of 63,511 for July 2007, falling to an average of 49,090 for the second half of 2009. Since 24 September 2006 Ireland on Sunday, the Irish Sunday newspaper acquired by Associated in 2001, was replaced by an Irish edition of the Mail on Sunday (the Irish Mail on Sunday), to tie in with the weekday newspaper.
Continental and Overseas Daily Mail
Two foreign editions were begun in 1904 and 1905; the former titled the Overseas Daily Mail, covering the world, and the latter titled the Continental Daily Mail, covering Europe and North Africa.
The newspaper entered India on 16 November 2007 with the launch of Mail Today, a 48-page compact size newspaper printed in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida with a print run of 110,000 copies. Based around a subscription model, the newspaper has the same fonts and feel as the Daily Mail and was set up with investment from Associated Newspapers and editorial assistance from the Daily Mail newsroom.
The Mail has traditionally been a supporter of the Conservatives and has endorsed this party in all recent general elections. While the paper retained its support for the Conservative Party at the 2015 general election, the paper urged conservatively inclined voters to support UKIP in the constituencies of Heywood and Middleton, Dudley North and Great Grimsby where UKIP was the main challenger to the Labour Party.
The paper is generally critical of the BBC, which it says is biased to the left. The Mail has published pieces by Joanna Blythman opposing the growing of genetically modified crops in the United Kingdom.
On international affairs, the Mail broke with the establishment media consensus over the 2008 South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgia. The Mail accused the British government of dragging Britain into an unnecessary confrontation with Russia and of hypocrisy regarding its protests over Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence, citing the British government's own recognition of Kosovo's independence from Russia's ally Serbia.
The Daily Mail has been awarded the National Newspaper of the Year in 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2011 by the British Press Awards
Daily Mail journalists have won a range of British Press Awards, including:
Other awards include:
Holes in the road
On 17 January 1967, the Mail published a story, "The holes in our roads", about potholes, giving the examples of Blackburn where it said there were 4,000 holes. This detail was then immortalised by John Lennon in The Beatles song "A Day in the Life", along with an account of the death of 21-year-old socialite Tara Browne in a car crash on 18 December 1966, which also appeared in the same issue.
In 1981, the Daily Mail ran an investigation into the Unification Church, nicknamed the Moonies, accusing them of ending marriages and brainwashing converts. The Unification Church, which always denied these claims, sued for libel but lost heavily. A jury awarded the Mail a then record-breaking £750,000 libel payout. In 1983 the paper won a special British Press Award for a "relentless campaign against the malignant practices of the Unification Church."
Gay gene controversy
On 16 July 1993 the Mail ran the headline "Abortion hope after 'gay genes' finding". Of the tabloid headlines which commented on the Xq28 gene, the Mail's was criticised as "perhaps the most infamous and disturbing headline of all".
The Mail campaigned vigorously for justice over the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. On 14 February 1997, the Mail front page pictured the five men accused of Lawrence's murder with the headline "MURDERERS", stating "if we are wrong, let them sue us". This attracted praise from Paul Foot and Peter Preston. Some journalists contended the Mail had belatedly changed its stance on the Lawrence murder, with the newspaper's earlier focus being the alleged opportunistic behaviour of anti-racist groups ("How Race Militants Hijacked a Tragedy", 10 May 1993) and alleged insufficient coverage of the case (20 articles in three years).
A 16 October 2009 Jan Moir article criticised aspects of the life and death of Stephen Gately. It was published six days after his death and before his funeral. The Press Complaints Commission received over 25,000 complaints, a record number, regarding the timing and content of the article. It was criticised as insensitive, inaccurate and homophobic. Major advertisers, such as Marks & Spencer, had their adverts removed from the Mail Online webpage containing Moir's article.
On 13 June 2011, a study by Dr Matt Jones and Michal Kucewicz on the effects of cannabinoid receptor activation in the brain was published in The Journal of Neuroscience and the British medical journal The Lancet. The study was used in articles by CBS News, and Le Figaro, Bild among others.
In October 2011, the Daily Mail printed an article citing the research, titled "Just ONE cannabis joint can bring on schizophrenia as well as damaging memory." The group Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), which campaigns for ending drug prohibition, criticised the Daily Mail report. Dr Matt Jones, co-author of the study, said he was "disappointed but not surprised" by the article, and stated: "This study does NOT say that one spliff will bring on schizophrenia". Dorothy Bishop, professor of neuroscience at Oxford University, in her blog awarded the Daily Mail the "Orwellian Prize for Journalistic Misrepresentation", The Mail later changed the article's headline to: "Just ONE cannabis joint 'can cause psychiatric episodes similar to schizophrenia' as well as damaging memory."
Ralph Miliband controversy
In September 2013, the Mail was criticised for an article on Ralph Miliband (father of then Labour-leader Ed Miliband and prominent Marxist sociologist), titled "The Man Who Hated Britain". Ed Miliband said that the article was "ludicrously untrue", that he was "appalled" and "not willing to see my father's good name be undermined in this way". Ralph Miliband had arrived in the UK from Belgium as a Jewish refugee from the Holocaust. The Jewish Chronicle described the article as "a revival of the 'Jews can't be trusted because of their divided loyalties' genre of antisemitism." Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith linked the article to the Nazi sympathies of the 1st Viscount Rothermere, whose family remain the paper's owners.
The paper defended the article's general content in an editorial, but described its use of a picture of Ralph Miliband's grave as an "error of judgement". In the editorial, the paper further remarked that "We do not maintain, like the jealous God of Deuteronomy, that the iniquity of the fathers should be visited on the sons. But when a son with prime ministerial ambitions swallows his father's teachings, as the younger Miliband appears to have done, the case is different." A spokesman for the paper also described claims that the article continued its history of anti-Semitism as "absolutely spurious." However, the reference to "the jealous God of Deuteronomy" was criticised by Jonathan Freedland, who said that "In the context of a piece about a foreign-born Jew, [the remark] felt like a subtle, if not subterranean hint to the reader, a reminder of the ineradicable alienness of this biblically vengeful people" and that "those ready to acquit the Mail because there was no bald, outright statement of antisemitism were probably using the wrong measure."
Gawker Media lawsuit
In March 2015, James King, a former contract worker at the Mail's New York office, wrote an article for Gawker titled 'My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online'. In the article, King alleged that the Mail's approach was to rewrite stories from other news outlets with minimal credit in order to gain advertising clicks, and that staffers had published material they knew to be false. He also suggested that the paper preferred to delete stories from its website rather than publish corrections or admit mistakes. In September 2015, the Mail's US company Mail Media filed a lawsuit against King and Gawker Media for libel. Eric Wemple at the Washington Post questioned the value of the lawsuit, noting that "Whatever the merits of King's story, it didn't exactly upend conventional wisdom" about the website's strategy.
Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, a cartoon in the Daily Mail by Stanley McMurtry ("Mac") linked the European migrant crisis (with a focus on Syria in particular) to the terrorist attacks, and criticised the European Union immigration laws for allowing Islamist radicals to gain easy access into the United Kingdom. Despite being compared to Nazi propaganda by The New York Times, and criticised as "reckless xenophobia," and racist, the cartoon received praise on the Mail Online website. A Daily Mail spokesperson told The Independent: "We are not going to dignify these absurd comments which wilfully misrepresent this cartoon apart from to say that we have not received a single complaint from any reader".
Anthony Weiner scandal
In September 2016, MailOnline published a lengthy interview and screenshots from a 15-year-old girl who claimed that the American politician Anthony Weiner had sent her sexually explicit images and messages. The revelation led to Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin—an aide of Hillary Clinton—separating. In late October, less than two weeks before the presidential election, FBI director James Comey stated that files found on Weiner's devices may be relevant to Clinton's email controversy.
Successful lawsuits against the Mail
There have been accusations of racism. In 2012, in an article for The New Yorker, former Mail reporter Brendan Montague criticised the Mail's content and culture, stating: "None of the front-line reporters I worked with were racist, but there's institutional racism [at Daily Mail]."
After High Court judges ruled in 2016 that parliamentary approval must be sought for activation of Article 50, the leading headline on the Mail's front page read "Enemies of the people". The paper's front page and other coverage drew much criticism from the legal world, as well as from high-ranking politicians. On its website, the Mail described one of the judges as "openly gay." Critics accused the Mail of unnecessarily highlighting the judge's sexual orientation due to anti-gay motives. The Mail later removed the description. One law professor commented: "I have never seen this kind of invective against judges, either here or abroad, in the national media."
The Mail's medical and science journalism has been criticised by some doctors and scientists, accusing it of using minor studies to generate scare stories.
In 2015, freelance journalist Djaffer Ait Aoudia told The Guardian that he secretly filmed a Mail representative negotiating for a "hacker" to obtain a café's CCTV of the November 2015 Paris attacks. The café owner agreed to supply the footage for €50,000. The Daily Mail responded: "There is nothing controversial about the Mail's acquisition of this video, a copy of which the police already had in their possession." The Guardian also, briefly, embedded the footage on their own website before removing it.
Other criticisms include the extent of coverage of celebrities, the children of celebrities. and property prices. The Mail has strongly denied any bias in its coverage of asylum seekers.
In February 2017, users of the English Wikipedia reached a consensus to reject the Daily Mail as being a reliable source for its articles, deeming its reporting to be "generally unreliable". Examples of articles where the subject indicated falsehoods in Daily Mail coverage include the articles about the Amanda Knox case, footballers Paul Pogba and Andrea Pirlo, and actor George Clooney and his wife. The newspaper was also accused of manipulating scientific data to undermine a scientist's position on global warming. A spokesman for Mail Newspapers replied that "only a tiny portion of the site’s millions of anonymous editors had been involved in the decision," adding "It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry at this move by Wikipedia. For the record the Daily Mail banned all its journalists from using Wikipedia as a sole source in 2014 because of its unreliability."
Regular cartoon strips
Up and Running is a strip distributed by Knight Features and Fred Basset has followed the life of the dog of the same name in a two-part strip in the Daily Mail since 8 July 1963. The Gambols are another feature in the Mail on Sunday.
The long-running Teddy Tail cartoon strip, was first published on 5 April 1915 and was the first cartoon strip in a British newspaper. It ran for over 40 years to 1960, spawning the Teddy Tail League Children's Club and many annuals from 1934 to 1942 and again from 1949 to 1962. Teddy Tail was a mouse, with friends Kitty Puss (a cat), Douglas Duck and Dr. Beetle. Teddy Tail is always shown with a knot in his tail.
The Daily Mail Year Book first appeared in 1901, summarizing the news of the past year in one volume of 200 to 400 pages. Among its editors were Percy L. Parker (1901–1905), David Williamson (1914–1951), G. B. Newman (1955–1977), Mary Jenkins (1978–1986), P.J. Failes (1987), and Michael and Caroline Fluskey (1991).
The majority of content appearing in the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday printed newspapers also forms part of that included in the MailOnline website. MailOnline is free to read and funded by advertising. In 2011 MailOnline was the second most visited English-language newspaper website worldwide. It has since then become the most visited newspaper website in the world, with over 189.5 million visitors per month, and 11.7 million visitors daily, as of January 2014.
Thailand's military junta blocked the MailOnline in May 2014 after the site revealed a video of Thailand's Crown Prince and his wife, Princess Srirasmi, partying. The video appears to show the allegedly topless princess, a former waitress, in a tiny G-string as she feeds her pet dog cake to celebrate its birthday.
Notable regular contributors (present)