Admiring The Daily Mail for its ruthlessness is like praising Satan for saving money on his energy bills

The Daily Mail is a well-oiled machine but you could say the same for most abattoirs


The Daily Mail is evil. I am not indulging in rhetoric. I am simply stating an observable, provable fact. Therefore when journalists and editors who don’t work there say things like, “I don’t approve of what they do but they do break a lot of stories...”, it’s the journalistic equivalent of disapproving of the SS but admitting that you do think the uniforms were quite natty.

The same goes for people who mutter things like, “Some people have to work at The Daily Mail, a job is a job.” I imagine that’s what contractors on the Death Star tried to tell their friends. Imagine the look of disappointment on the face of their Ewok pals down the Star Wetherspoons.

In journalism, there’s a term called “the hairdryer treatment” which means getting shouted at in public by an editor because they’re not happy with your copy or something you’ve done. A lot of people in journalism think this is a really effective way to manage people.

I think that the best way to manage writers — something I’ve done both as a commissioning editor and in a brief spell building a team as a Head of Communications for a small software company — is to mentor them and provide strong guidelines of what’s required from them. Shouting at people feels good for tinpot tyrants, but it’s not an effective way of making quality work.

The previous two points — The Daily Mail’s evil and the inefficient and immoral nature of the ‘hairdryer’ method — are connected a vituperative memo leaked to Guido Fawkes, which was emailed to journalists at The Mail on Sunday by the paper’s news editor, James Mellor. In it, he castigates them for an “unacceptable and frankly embarrassing” haul of exclusive stories in the latest edition.

“Daily Mail editor is a prick” is hardly an exclusive in itself. It’s up there with “Pope shows a penchant for silly hats,” and “Studies show that ursine shitting strategies favour wooded areas”. My issue is the number of apparently normal journalists who commented on favourably on Mellor’s approach, including the Editor of the Press Gazette, one of the industry’s most prominent trade papers.

That the Press Gazette’s editor thinks that such a “hairdryer treatment email” is a good and admirable thing explains many of the worst things about journalism. The number of pathetic middle-aged men who think they are Malcolm Tucker is depressing, and their sweary tirades combined with nostalgia for when journalists were predominantly functioning alcoholics who would destroy anyone for a ‘good’ story make the industry less and less appealing to the kind of young and more diverse writers that it needs.

One of The Daily Mail’s biggest stories yesterday was a character assassination of a gay, black theatremaker who includes drag in his work whose company — and not him as an individual — has received money from the government’s culture bailout fund. It was a transparently racist, homophobic, anti-black attack, targeted harassment of someone who did nothing wrong and, in fact, is doing something very right by providing work for two people as well as numerous freelancers, as well as producing art that people love.

There will have been people within the Mail organisation who were delighted with the effect of that story, and quite comfortable with the fact that its attack line was drawn from stories pushed by the Taxpayer’s Alliance — a bitter and bile-filled thinktank — and the odious oafs at Guido Fawkes (which also propagated the Mellor memo).

When people in my trade commend The Daily Mail for “making an extraordinary product”/ “serving its readers”/ “breaking stories”, they are also implicitly condoning the kind of reporting that has racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, classism, sexism, and other kinds of hate baked into it. The Daily Mail’s daily mission is to make its readers scared, angry, and frustrated — conditions that serve advertisers well; a scared consumer is one hungry for something to make them feel better for a moment.

I return to my opening point: The Daily Mail is evil. If you support it, you are supporting an evil endeavour and no number of caveats can excuse that.

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