Yes, we’ve linked to Daily Mail articles in the past and yes, we’re more than likely going to link to them in the future. But there’s a reason why you see a lot less of them here than you used to. That reason, quite simply, is that if you spend any time with the news, have anything resembling a critical eye and care even the slightest bit about the accuracy of what you’re reading, you’re going to come to realize at some point that at their best, a lot of daily mail articles are at least partially full of shit.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across something from the Mail that sounds like it’s tailor-made for a place here, only to start doing my own digging around and find out that if the story is even true, it’s not nearly what it was represented to be. And if James King is to be believed (I haven’t much doubt that he is), not much of that happens by accident.
He spent a little over a year working in the MailOnline’s New York City newsroom, and later wrote an article about what it was like. Honestly, it sounds even worse than I imagined.
The eager paradigm-proclaimer Michael Wolff used his USA Today media column last August to praise the Mail’s business model as having succeeded where other, better-funded and more prestigious publications have failed. Under the headline “Daily Mail Solves Internet Paradox,” Wolff lauded the publication’s “180 million unique visitors a month” and suggested that if other publications want to survive the “digital migration” they should adopt a model similar to that of the Mail’s.
What Wolff failed to acknowledge: the Mail’s editorial model depends on little more than dishonesty, theft of copyrighted material, and sensationalism so absurd that it crosses into fabrication.
Yes, most outlets regularly aggregate other publications’ work in the quest for readership and material, and yes, papers throughout history have strived for the grabbiest headlines facts will allow. But what DailyMail.com does goes beyond anything practiced by anything else calling itself a newspaper. In a little more than a year of working in the Mail’s New York newsroom, I saw basic journalism standards and ethics casually and routinely ignored. I saw other publications’ work lifted wholesale. I watched editors at the most highly trafficked English-language online newspaper in the world publish information they knew to be inaccurate.
“We do things a little differently than you might be used to,” U.S. editor Katherine Thomson told me, early in my time there.
She was right.
My favourite part of this whole thing might come at the bottom where Gawker publishes a statement from the Mail attempting to refute King’s claims. At one point, whilst listing the supposed inaccuracies in his story, the spokesperson takes the time to dispute a fact that wasn’t even written about. The idea that they can’t even keep their own exposed dishonesties straight speaks volumes about the kind of organization we’re dealing with, I think.