Ex-Guardian technology correspondent Bobbie Johnson has written an article on GigaOM on the reasons why the Daily Mail has become the biggest newspaper on the web.
Johnson writes: "There is no secret formula, just a lot of hustle and plenty of shamelessness. Anyone who thinks the Mail can show them how to succeed in online news must understand its increasing prominence has been the result of editorial choices that not everybody will be prepared to emulate."
He argues: "The core of the Mail’s success is down to its planet-sized ambition and incredibly aggressive approach to the news...the paper is entirely unashamed by its desire to win at all costs. That tone is set right from the top with rapacious editor-in-chief Paul Dacre, who retains an iron grip over the paper’s output and is regarded as one of the shrewdest — and most vindictive — editors around."Johnson praises MailOnline's broad approach, saying: "Headlines and stories are often written in such a way that the stories transcend location, class and gender."
He adds its editorial trademark is jaw-dropping, salacious headlines (“Swinging couple in drug-fuelled orgy with sex partner sprayed him with bear repellent after he refused to let them take explicit photos”); paparazzi shots of attractive women and fame-hungry celebrities, often in various states of undress; and a constant stream of stories about personal health.
Johnson says the other big factors in MailOnline's success is that it is free and has the financial support from its corporate parent.
He concludes: "While upmarket audiences and rivals sniff at it, the rest of the world, it seems, couldn’t care less. and in a media industry that is struggling, it is not hard to imagine some who are looking at what the Daily Mail has achieved and thinking they can do the same."
- Judy Shields post on Johnson's article: "The writer of this article goes in for the same kind of over-the-top, selective BS which he complains about…in the end the Daily Mail is successful because it’s put together by proper news journalists – ones who are extremely professional, well motivated, and well paid. No amount of ranting by jealous bloggers will change this. There’s no substitute for professional, mainstream, quality journalism."