What do the following websites have in common?

So here goes:

  • The New York Times
  • The Atlantic
  • Drudge Report
  • The Huffington Post
  • AOL News
  • Gawker
  • People
  • TMZ
  • Vice
  • E.Online
  • Perez Hilton
  • Buzzfeed

The answer: the Daily Mail is gunning for them all. Or rather Mail Online US believes it is “uniquely positioned” to take them on and in the process “fill a gap in the U.S. news/ent landscape”.

We know all this because Forbes.com’s Alex Kantrowitz got hold of the marketing slide that shows Mail Online floating expectantly among this exalted company.

I’ve written some more about it over on the Press Gazette.

“There is a craft to making magazines that cannot be replicated online”

A thoughtful piece in the Guardian yesterday by my former boss Jason Cowley to mark the centenary of the New Statesman.

In it Cowley, editor since 2008, touches on the marriage (and separation) of print and online and draws the following conclusion:

There is a craft to making magazines that cannot be replicated online: the joy of an arch headline that would fail all the utilitarian demands of search engine optimisation; the creative use of pictures and cartoons; the juxtaposition of viewpoints.

Little links the New Statesman with the Daily Mail, but they have one thing in common: our print and online offerings have separate identities, each adapted for the form. Our website can be fast, funny, irreverent; our magazine can be reflective, considered and deliberative. And both are thriving.

You can read the full piece here.

Ian Hislop: “Twitter creates clouds of viral ignorance”

From an interview with the Private Eye editor in Vice Magazine….

On  the bad and good of Twitter

The bad side is in this country, where it creates clouds of viral ignorance that swoop around picking the wrong targets and cocking it up. There are no rules, no standards, no verification, so a lot of what is on there is rubbish. The main effect of it here is that it allows newspapers to not bother to interview celebrities because they can just copy what they’re saying on Twitter. It was important in the Arab Spring and China in the freeing-up of information, which is the good side.

On the MailOnline

The Daily Mail, whatever its faults, in its print version does have some journalism – it covers stories, it ask questions and puts information out there. It does a lot of other things that people hate, but it does do that. If Mail Online is the future of journalism, it’s just sad. There’s a huge amount of money spent on the cult of celebrity – paying people to hang around for days in the hope of seeing Kim Kardashian fall over or get out of a car.

The commercial imperative is split between quite a prudish, old-fashioned print paper and creepy semi-porn online, and the only connection seems to be ownership.

The Sun Is Not The First Paper To Misjudge The Mood

jamie-janes-the-sunFor a newspaper that prides itself in being attuned to its readers’ sentiments, it is odd to see The Sun so out of step on the Jamie Janes affair. Odd but not unique.

Prime minister Gordon Brown may not be wildly popular across the country but many feel he is victim of a smear.

As the BBC’s Nick Robinson noted on his blog and on the Ten O’Clock News last night, it’s “clear from the phone-ins, the text messages, the blogs and the like that many share that sympathy [with Brown]”.

And that includes those who have passed judgement on The Sun’s website itself.

To take some of the most recent comments:

Asleroth: I truly am sorry for her loss. but give Brown a break, at least he went out of his way to even write a personal HAND written letter, most people would not have even done that, even the Queen does not send out hand written letters it’s all computer

jessicauk: [sic] fell sorry for the pm, seems nothing he does nowadays is right.

Jamie-101: Yes, the view that the note contains 25 spelling mistakes is clearly that of an illiterate who does not generally write by hand. Quite odd and disgusting to reduce the conflicts and the loss of life to this utterly puerile level. Brown is wrong on many things; he is honourable in writing thus.

The last time I can recall a national newspaper being so out of step with its readership (or should that be its commentariat?) was when the Daily Mail published an interview with former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Binyam Mohamed.

Here is a flavour of the reaction to a reasoned and largely sympathetic piece with Mohamed, a victim of “medieval” torture, who, let’s not forget, was not found guilty of any terrorist acts:

Ship him back to Ethiopia and stop using my taxes to house and feed him!

This man is NOT BRITISH, illegally entered the country, went to Pakistan (for help in beating his drug habit – yeah, right!) so, to be blunt – WHO CARES.

You put yourself in the Terrorist arena mate so you take the consequences of your action.

Er…. go away sunshine.

The backlash, far more predictable perhaps, has echoes of the more recent case.

But where the Daily Mail may have expected a negative reaction, The Sun is left slightly stunned.

The Sun’s sympathy for a grieving mother… or simple exploitation?
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?

Jan Moir Meet ‘The Big Gay Who Runs The Internet’

Lots of column (and blogosphere) inches are being written in response to the suggestion that the Jan Moir backlash was an orchestrated campaign.

And lots of it is very cogent. But perhaps this, tweeted on Friday afternoon, deals with it best. Typo and all:


TheMediaBlog.co.uk debates Jan Moir’s Stephen Gately column on Sky News
Is the Daily Mail in denial over Moir outrage?
‘Tory sleaze MP dies of cancer’: Daily Mail Finds New Ways To Offend

Telegraph And Mail Go Troughing With The Micro Pigs

Further evidence that the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail are print media’s most aggressive online operators. And their latest success is all down to eight inches of bacon-busting micro pig.


Micro pigs are, apparently, the latest celebrity accessory and many of your fellow surfers have been searching for news and information about these must-have pets.

So much so that according to Hitwise, ‘micro pigs’ was the fastest moving search term in the UK last week.

Never ones to miss an opportunity, both the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph were quick out of the traps (the pen?) with some puff on the pigs.

And it’s worked a treat. As Robin Goad points out today, the Daily Mail has been the grateful recipient of one in four clicks from ‘micro pig’ search results. The Daily Telegraph, meanwhile, got a very handy 13 per cent of downstream traffic.

And just like the little pigs, all the search traffic is organic.

Is This The Ultimate Daily Mail Headline?
Telegraph PM, Premature RIP For DIY PDF?

‘Tory sleaze MP dies of cancer’: Daily Mail Finds New Ways To Offend

I wrote last week about how the Sunday Times’s AA Gill had broken the unwritten obit code when dealing with the recently departed Keith Floyd.

Well, judging by this headline from the Daily Mail, it would appear that it is open season on the dead:

piers-merchant-daily-mail(Hat tip: @badjournalism)

Is This The Ultimate Daily Mail Headline?
Gill Breaks Obit Code, Flambés Floyd

Is This The Ultimate Daily Mail Headline?

The headline below doesn’t come from one of those Daily Mail headline random generators. Rather it featured in the real paper earlier this week. The online version, meanwhile, is true to the print original down to the upcapped “HAVE” .

It’s such a perfect example of its form that it is causing waves on the other side of the Atlantic. Cory Doctrow of the crazily popular Boing Boing (tagline: A Directory of Wonderful Things) is responsible for the rather blurry image below.  


 – The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns
 – One Of The Best Photo Captions Ever
Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?

Daily Telegraph Meets Fail Whale In Case Of The Phantom Twittercrat

Twitter_Fail_WhaleIt was one of the more entertaining tit-for-tats of the week. The Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and Daily Express all ran stories about the government preparing to appoint a £120k-a-year ‘Twittercrat’ to teach it how to use social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Bebo.

Nice story, except it wasn’t true.

In a rebuttal far better written than the original job ad that sparked the row, the Cabinet Office set out five key inaccuracies in the papers’ reporting (“The job title is wrong. Details of the job description are wrong.” etc).

Could the Cabinet Office use those very social media tools to get its message out?

For more read my latest Journalism.co.uk column: A telling tale of the Twittercrat who wasn’t

The Express Fiddles While The Mail Earns

It may have passed you by but the Daily Express is redesigning its homepage. There’s an open beta for you to peruse and pass judgement on. So far the Twitterati seems unimpressed*, often for good reason.

And while the Express continues to fiddle with its weather widget, horizontal navs and news tabs, its mid-market stablemate the Daily Mail gets on with the job in hand – driving traffic.

And in at least two areas the Mail excels. A fan or otherwise, you should at least concede that:

1. It has the most grabby picture teasers of any UK newspaper site, doubtless improving its stickiness and likely encouraging repeat visits. Low rent, high impact.

2. It is the most unapologetic practitioner of the link-bait headline – often four or five decks deep, always bursting with proper nouns.

You will all have your favourites, but I was rather taken by this seven-liner from yesterday’s sports section:

Daily_Mail_Headline_16_Aug_2009One headline, 35 words, four Premier League clubs, three managers and one player. The URL is even more brazen, moving the valueless ‘What the pages say’ to the end and limiting the generic, connector words:


Laughable it may be but you can bet it’s effective.

Despite some recent doubts about the financial value of the link economy, this kind of approach is a reflection that search engines, aggregators and other assorted referrers make or break your site. Not the look and feel of your homepage.

Sure your homepage matters – but mostly for those inside the organisation (internal stakeholders, if you must).

Given most outsiders don’t come through the site’s front door – they are taken straight inside by the army of referrers – isn’t it time to stop obsessing about a single page?

(*UPDATE: Malcolm Coles offers this alternative Daily Express wireframe…)

Daily Mail Ends Moderation. Will Anybody Notice?