Daily Mail

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
Daily Mail front page in August 2011.
Type Daily newspaper
Format Tabloid
Owner Daily Mail and General Trust
Publisher Associated Newspapers Ltd
Editor Paul Dacre
Founded 4 May 1896
Political alignment Conservative
Language English
Circulation 2,050,132[1]
Official website dailymail.co.uk

The Daily Mail is a British daily middle-market tabloid newspaper owned by the Daily Mail and General Trust. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom's second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982. Scottish and Irish editions of the daily paper were launched in 1947 and 2006 respectively. The Daily Mail was Britain's first daily newspaper aimed at the newly-literate "lower-middle class market resulting from mass education, combining a low retail price with plenty of competitions, prizes and promotional gimmicks",[2] and the first British paper to sell a million copies a day.[3] It was, from the outset, a newspaper for women, being the first to provide features especially for them, and is still the only British newspaper whose readership is more than 50% female.[4][5][6]



The Mail was originally a broadsheet but switched to a compact format[7] on 3 May 1971, the 75th anniversary of its founding. On this date it also absorbed the Daily Sketch, which had been published as a tabloid by the same company. The publisher of the Mail, the Daily Mail and General Trust, is currently a FTSE 250 company and the paper has a circulation of around two million which is the third-largest circulation of any English language daily newspaper and one of the highest in the world.[8]

Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations in July 2011 show gross daily sales of 2,050,132 for the Daily Mail.[1] According to a December 2004 survey, 53% of Daily Mail readers voted for the Conservative Party, compared to 21% for Labour and 17% for the Liberal Democrats.[9] The main concern of Viscount Rothermere, the current chairman and main shareholder, is that the circulation be maintained. He testified before a House of Lords select committee that "we need to allow editors the freedom to edit", and therefore the newspaper's editor was free to decide editorial policy, including its political allegiance.[10] The Mail has been edited by Paul Dacre since 1992.

Under Dacre, the Mail has a reputation for a conservative editorial stance on topics such as immigration, working women and teenage sex.


Early history

The Daily Mail, devised by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) and his brother Harold (later Lord Rothermere), was first published on 4 May 1896. It was an immediate success. It cost a halfpenny at a time when other London dailies cost one penny, and was more populist in tone and more concise in its coverage than its rivals. The planned issue was 100,000 copies but the print run on the first day was 397,215 and additional printing facilities had to be acquired to sustain a circulation which rose to 500,000 in 1899. Lord Salisbury, 19th-century Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, dismissed the Daily Mail as "a newspaper produced by office boys for office boys."[11] By 1902, at the end of the Boer War, the circulation was over a million, making it the largest in the world.[12][13]

With Harold running the business side of the operation and Alfred as Editor, the Mail from the start adopted an imperialist political stance, taking a patriotic line in the Second Boer War, leading to claims that it was not reporting the issues of the day objectively.[14] From the beginning, the Mail also set out to entertain its readers with human interest stories, serials, features and competitions (which were also the main means by which the Harmsworths promoted the paper).

In 1900, the Daily Mail began printing simultaneously in both Manchester and London, the first national newspaper to do so (in 1899, the Daily Mail had organised special trains to bring the London-printed papers north). The same production method was adopted in 1909 by the Daily Sketch, in 1927 by the Daily Express and eventually by virtually all the other national newspapers. Printing of the Scottish Daily Mail was switched from Edinburgh to the Deansgate plant in Manchester in 1968 and, for a while, The People was also printed on the Mail presses in Deansgate. In 1987, printing at Deansgate ended and the northern editions were thereafter printed at other Associated Newspapers plants.

In 1906, the paper offered £1,000 for the first flight across the English Channel and £10,000 for the first flight from London to Manchester. Punch magazine thought the idea preposterous and offered £10,000 for the first flight to Mars, but by 1910 both the Mail's prizes had been won. (For full list see Daily Mail aviation prizes.)

The paper was accused of warmongering before the outbreak of World War I, when it reported that Germany was planning to crush the British Empire. Northcliffe created controversy by advocating conscription when the war broke out.[15] On 21 May 1915, Northcliffe wrote a blistering attack on Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War. Kitchener was considered a national hero, and, overnight, the paper's circulation dropped from 1,386,000 to 238,000. 1,500 members of the London Stock Exchange ceremonially burned the unsold copies and launched a boycott against the Harmsworth Press. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith accused the paper of being disloyal to the country.

When Kitchener died, the Mail reported it as a great stroke of luck for the British Empire[citation needed]. The paper then campaigned against Asquith, who resigned on 5 December 1916.[16] His successor, David Lloyd George, asked Northcliffe to be in his cabinet, hoping it would prevent him from criticising the government. Northcliffe declined.[17]

Inter-war period

As Lord Northcliffe aged, his grip on the paper slackened and he might have nothing to do with it for months at a time. But light-hearted stunts might enliven him, such as the Hat campaign in the winter of 1920. This was a contest with a prize of £100 for new design of hat — a subject in which Northcliffe took a particular interest. There were 40,000 entries and the winner was a cross between a top hat and a bowler christened the Daily Mail Sandringham Hat. The paper subsequently promoted the wearing of it but without much success.[18] In 1922, when Lord Northcliffe died, Lord Rothermere took full control of the paper.

In 1919, Alcock and Brown made the first flight across the Atlantic winning a prize of £10,000 from the Daily Mail. In 1930, the Daily Mail made a great story of another aviation stunt, awarding another prize of £10,000 to Amy Johnson for making the first solo flight from England to Australia.[19]

The Daily Mail had begun the Ideal Home Exhibition in 1908. At first, Northcliffe had disdained this as a publicity stunt to sell advertising and he refused to attend. But his wife exerted pressure upon him and he changed his views, becoming more supportive. By 1922, the editorial side of the paper was fully engaged in promoting the benefits of modern appliances and technology to free its female readers from the drudgery of housework.[20] The Mail maintained the event until selling it to Media 10 in 2009.[21]

On 25 October 1924, the Daily Mail published the forged Zinoviev Letter, which indicated that British Communists were planning violent revolution. This was a significant factor in the defeat of Ramsay MacDonald's Labour Party in the 1924 general election, held four days later.[22]

From 1923, Lord Rothermere and the Daily Mail formed an alliance with the other great press baron, Lord Beaverbrook. Their opponent was the Conservative party politician and leader Stanley Baldwin. By 1929, George Ward Price was writing in the Mail that Baldwin should be deposed and Beaverbrook elected as leader. In early 1930, the two Lords launched the United Empire Party which the Daily Mail supported enthusiastically.

A page from The Daily Mail Silver Jubilee Issue, 1935

The rise of the new party dominated the newspaper and, even though Beaverbrook soon withdrew, Rothermere continued to campaign. Vice Admiral Taylor fought the first by-election for the United Empire Party in October, defeating the official Conservative candidate by 941 votes. Baldwin's position was now in doubt but, in 1931, Duff Cooper won the key by-election at St George's, Westminster, beating the United Empire Party candidate, Sir Ernest Petter, supported by Rothermere, and this broke the political power of the press barons.[23]

In 1927, the celebrated picture of the year Morning by Dod Proctor was bought by the Daily Mail for the Tate Gallery.[24]

Lord Rothermere was a friend and supporter of both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which influenced the Mail's political stance towards them during the 1930s.[25][26] Rothermere's 1933 leader "Youth Triumphant" praised the new Nazi regime's accomplishments, and was subsequently used as propaganda by them.[27]

The minor misdeeds of individual Nazis would be submerged by the immense benefits the new regime is already bestowing on Germany (1933).

—Lord Rothermere, publisher

Rothermere and the Mail were also editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.[28] Rothermere wrote an article entitled "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" in January 1934, praising Mosley for his "sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine".[29] This support ended after violence at a BUF rally in Kensington Olympia later that year.[citation needed]

Post-war history

On 5 May 1946, the Daily Mail celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Winston Churchill was the chief guest at the banquet and toasted it with a speech,[30]

I remember lunching at Londonderry House on the day when the Daily Mail first came out, and Alfred Harmsworth sat as the guest of honour at a very small party — a very remarkable man, a man of great influence and independence. In a free country where enterprise can make its way, he was able to create this enormous, lasting, persuasive and attractive newspaper which had its influence in our daily lives and with which we have walked along the road for 50 years.

In reply, Lord Rothermere II had something to say about the newsprint shortages at that time for, while the Mail of 1896 was 8 pages, the Mail of 1946 was reduced to just 4.[30]

The Daily Mail was transformed by its editor of the seventies and eighties, Sir David English. Sir David began his Fleet Street career in 1951, joining The Daily Mirror before moving to The Daily Sketch, where he became features editor. It was the Sketch which brought him his first editorship, from 1969 to 1971. That year the Sketch was closed and he moved to take over the top job at the Mail, where he was to remain for more than 20 years. English transformed it from a struggling rival selling two million copies fewer than the Daily Express to a formidable journalistic powerhouse, which soared dramatically in popularity. After 20 years perfecting the Mail, Sir David English became editor-in-chief and chairman of Associated Newspapers in 1992.

The paper enjoyed a period of journalistic success in the 1980s, employing some of the most inventive writers in old Fleet Street including the gossip columnist Nigel Dempster, Lynda Lee Potter and sportswriter Ian Wooldridge (who unlike some of his colleagues — the paper generally did not support sporting boycotts of white-minority-ruled South Africa — strongly opposed Apartheid). In 1982, a Sunday title, the Mail on Sunday, was launched (the Sunday Mail was already the name of a newspaper in Scotland, owned by the Mirror Group.) There are Scottish editions of both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday, with different articles and columnists. In 1992, the current editor, Paul Dacre, was appointed.

Scottish, Irish, Continental and Indian editions

Scottish Daily Mail

Scottish Daily Mail masthead.jpg

The Scottish Daily Mail was published as a separate title from Edinburgh, starting in 1947.[31] The circulation was poor though, falling to below 100,000 and the operation was rebased to Manchester in December 1968.[32] In 1995 the Scottish Daily Mail was relaunched printed in Glasgow. With a circulation in Dec 2009 of 113,771 making it the third highest daily newspaper sale in Scotland.[33]

Irish edition

The Daily Mail officially entered the Irish market with the launch of a local version of the paper on 6 February 2006; free copies of the paper were distributed on that day in some locations to publicise the launch. Its masthead differs from that of UK versions by having a green rectangle with the word "IRISH", instead of the Royal Arms. The Irish version includes stories of Irish interest alongside content from the UK version. According to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Irish edition had a circulation of 63,511 for July 2007,[34] falling to an average of 49,090 for the second half of 2009.[35] Since 24 September 2006 Ireland on Sunday, the Irish Sunday newspaper acquired by Associated in 2001, was replaced by an Irish edition of the Mail on Sunday (the Irish Mail on Sunday), to tie in with the weekday newspaper.

Continental and Overseas Daily Mail

Two foreign editions were begun in 1904 and 1905; the former titled the "Overseas Daily Mail", covering the world, and the latter titled the "Continental Daily Mail", covering Europe and North Africa.[36]

Mail Today

The newspaper entered India on 16 November 2007 with the launch of Mail Today,[37] a 48-page compact size newspaper printed in Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida with a print run of 110,000 copies. Based around a subscription model, the newspaper has the same fonts and feel as the Daily Mail and was set up with investment from Associated Newspapers and editorial assistance from the Daily Mail newsroom.[38]

Libel lawsuits

The Daily Mail has been involved in a number of notable libel suits. Among them are:

  • 2001, February—Businessman Alan Sugar was awarded £100,000 in damages following a story commenting on his stewardship of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.[39]
  • 2003, October—Actress Diana Rigg awarded £30,000 in damages over a story commenting on aspects of her personality.[40]
  • 2006, May—£100,000 damages for Elton John, following false accusations concerning his manners and behaviour.[41]
  • 2009, January—£30,000 award to Dr Austen Ivereigh, who had worked for Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, following false accusations made by the newspaper concerning abortion.[42]
  • 2010, July—£47,500 award to Parameswaran Subramanyam for falsely claiming that he secretly sustained himself with hamburgers during a 23-day hunger strike in Parliament Square to draw attention to the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka.[43]
  • 2011, November-the former lifestyle adviser to Cherie Blair and Tony Blair, Carole Caplin received "substantial" libel damages over claims in the Mail that she was about to reveal intimate details about her former clients.[44]

Editorial stance

Current columnists

In the late 1960s, the paper went through a phase of being liberal on social issues like corporal punishment, but soon returned to its traditional conservative line. In Tony Blair's early years as Labour leader and then Prime Minister, the paper wrote positively about him and his reforms of the party.

The editorial stance changed to become critical of Tony Blair in his later years as Prime Minister, and the Mail endorsed the Conservative Party in the 2005 general election.[45]

The paper is generally critical of the BBC, which it says is biased to the left.[46] The Mail has also opposed the growing of genetically-modified crops in the United Kingdom, a stance it shares with many of its left-wing critics.

On international affairs, the Mail broke with the establishment media consensus over the 2008 South Ossetia war between Russia and Georgia. The Mail accused the British government of dragging Britain into an unnecessary confrontation with Russia and of hypocrisy regarding its protests over Russian recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's independence, citing the British government's own recognition of Kosovo's independence from Russia's ally Serbia.[47]

Melanie Philips, once known as a voice for The Guardian and New Statesman moved to the right in the 1990s, writes for the Daily Mail, covering political and social issues from a conservative perspective. She has defined herself as a liberal who has "been mugged by reality".[48]

Famous stories

On 7 January 1967, the Mail published a story, "The holes in our roads", about potholes, giving the examples of Blackburn where it said there were 4,000 holes. This detail was then immortalised by John Lennon in the Beatles song "A Day in the Life", along with an account of the death of 21-year-old socialite Tara Browne in a car crash on 18 December 1966, which also appeared in the same issue.[49]

In 1981, the Daily Mail ran an investigation into the Unification Church, nicknamed The Moonies, and branded them "the church that breaks up families" in the article, which accused them of brainwashing converts. The Unification church, which always denied brainwashing, sued for libel and lost heavily. A jury awarded the Mail a record-breaking £750,000 - then the biggest libel payout. In 1983 the paper won a special British Press Award for a "relentless campaign against the malignant practices of the Unification Church."

On 16 July 1993 the Mail ran the headline "Abortion hope after 'gay genes' finding";[50] this headline has been widely criticised in subsequent years, for example as "perhaps the most infamous and disturbing headline of all" (of headlines from tabloid newspapers commenting on the Xq28 gene).[51]

The Mail campaigned on the case of Stephen Lawrence, a black teenager who was murdered in a racially motivated attack in Eltham, London in April 1993. On 14 February 1997, the Mail led its front page with a picture of the five men accused of Lawrence's murder and the headline "MURDERERS", stating that it believed that the men had murdered Lawrence and adding "if we are wrong, let them sue us".[52] This attracted praise from Paul Foot and Peter Preston.[53]

On 9 October 2009 the Mail ran the headline "Hunger striker's £7m Big Mac: Tamil who cost London a fortune in policing was sneaking in fast-food"[54][55] The article stated that "Scotland Yard surveillance teams using specialist monitoring equipment had watched in disbelief" as Parameswaran Subramaniyan, a Tamil hunger striker protesting outside the Houses of Parliament, covertly broke his fast by secretly eating McDonald's burgers. When a request for an apology and retraction of this story was refused, Mr Subramanyam issued proceedings against the paper.[56] In court, the newspaper's claim was shown to be entirely false; the Met superintendent in charge of the policing operation confirmed there had been no police surveillance team using the "specialist monitoring equipment". As a result, on 29 July 2010, Mr Subramanyam is understood to have accepted damages of £47,500 from the Daily Mail. The newspaper also paid his legal costs, withdrew the allegations and apologised "sincerely and unreservedly" for the distress that had been caused.[57]

A 16 October 2009 Jan Moir article on the death of Stephen Gately,[58] which many people felt was inaccurate, insensitive, and homophobic, generated over 25,000 complaints, the highest number of complaints for a newspaper article in the history of the Press Complaints Commission.[59][60] Major advertisers such as Marks and Spencer responded to the criticism by asking for their own adverts to be removed from the Mail Online webpage around Moir's article. The Daily Mail removed all display ads from the webpage with the Gately column.[61]

Supplements and features

Daily Mail

  • City & Finance – City & Finance is the business part of the Daily Mail, and the Financial Mail is the business paper free with the Mail on Sunday. City & Finance features City News and the results from the London Stock Exchange, and also has its own website called This is Money.[62]
  • Travelmail – Contains travel articles, advertisements etc.
  • Femail – Femail is an extensive part of the Daily Mail's newspaper and website, being one of four main features on Mail Online others being News, TV & Showbiz and Sport. It is designed for women.
  • Weekend – The Daily Mail Weekend is a TV guide published by the Daily Mail, included free with the Mail every Saturday. Weekend magazine, launched in October 1993, is issued free with the Saturday Daily Mail. The guide does not use a magazine-type layout but chooses a newspaper style similar to the Daily Mail itself. In April 2007, the "Weekend" had a major revamp. A feature changed during the revamp was a dedicated Freeview channel page.

Mail on Sunday

  • Financial Mail on Sunday – now part of the main paper, this section includes the Financial Mail Enterprise, focusing on small business.
  • YouYou magazine is a women's magazine featured in the Mail on Sunday. It is a mix of in-depth features plus fashion, beauty advice, practical insights on health and relationships, food recipes and interiors. The Mail markets it, with Live magazine, as the only paper to have a magazine for him (Live) and for her (You). The Mail on Sunday is read by over six million a week.[63]
  • Live – this magazine is aimed at men. The main features are columns by well-known people[citation needed].
  • Mail on Sunday 2 This pullout includes review, featuring articles on the arts, books and culture and it consists of reviews of all media and entertainment forms and interviews with sector personalities, property, travel and health.
  • Sportsmail – on the back pages of the Mail. It features different sports including an emphasis on alternative sports such as darts and snooker.[citation needed]
  • Football Mail on Sunday – this reviews Premier League, Championship and Football League games from Saturday as well certain international games.

Regular cartoon strips

  • Garfield
  • I Don't Believe It (discontinued)
  • Odd Streak
  • The Strip Show
  • Chloe and Co. (by Knight Features)
  • Up and Running (by Knight Features)
  • The Gambols (Sunday, in the Cartoons section)
  • Fred Basset
  • Peanuts (Sunday, in the Cartoons section)

Current cartoon strips that are in the Daily Mail include Garfield which moved from the Daily Express in 2006 and is also included in The Mail on Sunday. I Don't Believe It is another 3/4 part strip, written by Dick Millington. Odd Streak and The Strip Show, which is shown in 3D are one part strips. Up and Running is a strip distributed by Knight Features and Fred Basset follows the life of the dog of the same name in a two part strip in the Daily Mail since 8 July 1963.[64] The Gambols are another feature in the Mail on Sunday.

The long-running Teddy Tail cartoon strip, was first published on 5 April 1915 and was the first cartoon strip in a British newspaper.[65] It ran for over 40 years to 1960, spawning the Teddy Tail League Children's Club and many annuals from 1934 to 1942 and again from 1949 to 1962. Teddy Tail was a mouse, with friends Kitty Puss (a cat), Douglas Duck and Dr. Beetle. Teddy Tail is always shown with a knot in his tail.[66][67]

Online media

The Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday publish most of their news online in a service called the Mail Online which is viewed daily by nearly 3 million users.[68] Most of the site can be viewed for free and without registration, though some services require users to register.


Notable regular contributors (present)




Past writers

  • Paul Callan
  • William Comyns Beaumont (left in 1903 to create The Bystander)
  • Anthony Cave Brown (worked from mid-1950s to mid-1960s, won "Reporter of the Year" award in 1958)
  • Peter Wildeblood (the paper's former royal correspondent diplomatic editor, was prosecuted for homosexuality in a high profile trial in the 1950s)
  • Nigel Dempster
  • Percy Izzard Gardening and country life correspondent for over 50 years.
  • Ralph Izzard Journalist, author, adventurer and one time Berlin Bureau Chief, Izzard was a staff writer for the Mail beginning in 1931 and continued contributing until his death in 1992, with the only interruption being his service in British Naval Intelligence during WWII.
  • Paul Johnson (left the Mail in 2001)
  • John Junor
  • Lynda Lee-Potter (wrote for the Mail from 1967 until her death in 2004)
  • William Le Queux – A prolific writer of invasion literature in the pre-First World War period.
  • Valentine Williams (1883–1946) General news correspondent and, during the First World War, chief of the Daily Mail war service. Later a popular mystery novelist.[69]
  • Keith Waterhouse
  • Herbert Wrigley Wilson, naval historian and chief leader writer in the paper's early years
  • Ian Wooldridge, a sportswriter on the paper from 1961 until his death in 2007

Political allegiance

The Daily Mail is a traditional supporter of the Conservative Party, although it did back Tony Blair's "New Labour" in the 2001 general election, where they were re-elected by a landslide.[70]


1896: S. J. Pryor
1899: Thomas Marlowe
1922: W. G. Fish
1930: Oscar Pulvermacher
1930: William McWhirter
1931: W. L. Warden
1935: Arthur Cranfield
1939: Bob Prew
1944: Sidney Horniblow
1947: Frank Owen
1950: Guy Schofield
1955: Arthur Wareham
1959: William Hardcastle
1963: Mike Randall
1966: Arthur Brittenden
1971: David English
1992: Paul Dacre

Source: D. Butler and A. Sloman, British Political Facts, 1900–1975, p. 378.

See also

  • Daily Chronicle, a newspaper which merged with the Daily News to become the News-Chronicle and was finally absorbed by the Daily Mail
  • 1910 London to Manchester air race


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  • Daily mail — Le Daily Mail est un journal britannique publié depuis 1896, qui est de ce fait le plus ancien tabloïd. Il est situé deuxième dans le nombre de vente journalier en Grande Bretagne, juste après The Sun. Du coté de la politique, ses idées sont très …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Daily Mail — Тип таблоид Владелец Daily Mail and General Trust Издатель Associated Newspapers Ltd Главный редактор Paul Dacre Основана 4 мая 1896 Я …   Википедия

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  • Daily Mail — (infml the Mail) one of Britain’s national daily newspapers, started in 1896 by Alfred Harmsworth, who later became Lord Northcliffe. It presents political views that are generally right wing. It has a tabloid format (= size of page) and is… …   Universalium

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