Shutter the op-eds, and silence the news,
Let kittens and Nazis replace those page views
The Times has been vanquished, so fuddy and stale
Compared to the link bait of the Daily Mail.
(With apologies to W.H Auden)
Yes, it’s true. According to comScore, the UK’s Daily Mail — one time in-flight magazine of Luftwaffe Ein — has overtaken the New York Times as the most popular newspaper on the web.
“The figures show Mail Online reached 45.3 million people last December, to the Times’s 44.8 million. Trailing them are USA Today at , the Tribune newspapers , and the Guardian. The growth, the editor and publisher of the Mail’s online properties, Martin Clarke, said, has been driven by U.S. traffic.”
Brits tend to be divided pretty much down the middle on the Daily Mail, at least in its print form.
For those of us of a more left-leaning bent, the Mail is the Great Satan. Flipping through its pages is like scanning the Tumblr of the elected councilor of Racism-on-Sea, shortly after his messy divorce and shortly before he’s caught cottaging in a public toilet. Stories of immigrant crime abound, overshadowed only by those of judges being lax on “blacks”, “gays” and — of course “Muslims” all of which, in Daily Mail World, will all one day give you cancer. Oh, and Nazis. The Mail fucking LOVES Nazis.
Here’s a sample from today’s paper, published under the headline (really) “Hitler at Home“…
“Where do dictators go to relax? Much is known of how Hitler masterminded his war effort, but not so much about how he spent his ‘down time’. Well, he had surprisingly lavish tastes – as shown by our never-before-seen photos.”
To its supporters, however, the Mail is not just a newspaper but “the newspaper”, as in “Darling, did you see that story in the newspaper today about the gay Muslim chappie who is being given a free house because he threatened to eat the Queen? It’s political correctness gone mad!”
The paper exists for one reasons: to reinforce a sincere belief that the only thing preventing Daily Mail readers from reaching the summit of Maslow’s pyramid is a grand conspiracy on the part of minorities, and liberal judges, and academics, and facts and research. Were it not for “those people”, Britannia would still rule the waves, India and Australia wouldn’t kick our arses at cricket and Princess Diana would still be alive, sipping tea with Winston Churchill and Empress Thatcher.
As you can imagine, writing for the Daily Mail is an exercise in hypocrisy and whoreship. For that reason, the Mail is — by a mile — the best paying gig in Fleet Street. As one former contributor explained to me: “you hold your nose and take the money.”
If all of this sounds at odds with your own experiences of the Mail, dear American readers, that’s because you’ve only ever read the Daily Mail online. And the Daily Mail Online and the Daily Mail newspaper are as different as chalk and AIDS.
Online, the Mail is the ultimate crowd pleaser. “We just do news that people want to read,” explains Martin Clarke. By which he means we write stories that will appeal to the entire English-speaking world, regardless of race, colour or creed. Clicks are clicks and we want them all.
Sure enough, the front page of DailyMail.co.uk is barely distinguishable from the Huffington Post. As I write these words, the top three stories concern a murderer in North Carolina, a woman in Florida having sex with a minor and a copy and paste from Harper’s Bazaar about how nice 62-year-old Vera Wang looks in a swim-suit.
And while the print Mail still pays above-market rates to its hacks, Mail Online is equally renowned for paying peanuts. As with HuffPo, the strategy is to pile it high, get it cheap and pay the bills with a billion belly-fat ads.
Given all of this, today’s news that the Mail Online has overtaken NYTimes.com is remarkable only because it should have happened months ago.
For one thing, the Times has put up a partial paywall around its content while the Daily Mail has artificially boosted its numbers by adding in traffic from its financial site ThisIsMoney. The Times’ Eileen Murphy put BuzzFeed straight on that score…
“It’s a roll-up of their properties,” she said, arguing that the Times could include Boston Globe properties in its total to beat the Mail. “[W]e remain the # 1 individual newspaper site in the world.”
More importantly, the Times’ main headline right now — “Fed Signals That a Full Recovery Is Years Away” — lacks some of that must-click sexiness of “‘Getting it done right’: What woman, 23, having sex with boy, 13, in his bedroom told his mother when she walked in on them”.
If writing that stuff is what it takes to win first place, I feel sure the Times’ reporters are happy to be runners-up.