Discussion of the more serious side of the Mail's agenda
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By Malcolm Armsteen
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#268514
This came up on the Dacre's Drip thread and I wanted to develop the idea a bit further, as it's something I've been thinking about for a while.

It isn't really about the characteristics of Mail readers, or even Mailites, it's about Dacre's paradigm of society, which he promotes through editorial direction at the Mail, and which resonates with a proportion of the readership (who may well have the characteristics that Andy described).

Dacre is the privately-educated son of a journalist. He worked for some time as the US correspondent of the Daily Express (the paper his father had worked for). It seems that in the USA he adopted free-market ideologies, after being fairly liberal at university (where he read English). In that sense he seems to have been rather a sponge, absorbing rather than challenging the ideas around him. He was offered the chance to edit The Times, but turned it down because he believed that The Mail would allow him more freedom.

His paradigm of society seems to embrace the Marxist conflict perspective, that different groups in society are essentially competing for resources and 'goods'.

He extends this paradigm towards a dystopic view, as I described in the Dacre's Drip thread:
an alternative universe as Nick Davis calls it, where everything is shit, people are cynical and doing each other down, all politicians are crooks and the workers are idle and dishonest. Public services are invariably manned by overpaid jobsworths or pen-pushers. Teachers are all lefties (if not kiddy fiddlers) and nurses are venal and uninterested.
This is the conflict paradigm taken to an unhealthy degree. It is essentially sociopathic, if there is good in people (vide Stephen Lawrence) it is the exception that proves that the rest of society is 'broken'. It is always necessary to defeat the other person or group in order to gain possession of the goodies, not co-operate and share.

Once you see this dystopic vision centred in Dacre (commonly said to be the most controlling editor in the business, that is the output of the paper more closely follows his beliefs and priorities than that of any other paper) you can see its expression in many stories, often of little apparent importance, such as the emphasis on sadface stories. These are common throughout the press, but concentrated at The Mail.

It also shows in the assorted misogynist tales, the choice of doom-laden commentators and much of the sidebar of shame. The treatment of immigrants, claimants, the disabled and so forth.

I'm not convinced that all Mail readers share this paradigm, or even a majority. For most I'm sure that the paradigm either passes them by, or they ignore it to get to the other stories - after all, The Mail employs more journalists than most (certainly the Express) and does more 'real' journalism than the other tabloids. It reliably provides comment and information on most stories that a general readership might have an interest in.

For some, however, it is a source of confirmation bias. This is what Davies means when he says that Dacre is more in tune with his readership than any other editor. He is in tune with people who share his dystopian vision. Whether or not he created that vision is debateable, personally I think he has enlarged and deepened it, and that is his huge disservice to the nation and the common good.
 
By Daley Mayle
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#268531
It's difficult to add to this because you've covered all the bases and your argument is faultless. Spelling's good as well.

It does beg the question about the purpose of such a newspaper and the motivation behind it. From memory The Mail was always negative and corrosive long before Dacre took over as editor. He might have gone there because he would enjoy more freedom him but I think he also recognised that him and Rothermere are a perfect fit. I'm not sure that Mrs Rothermere is happy about her husband having to appear in public at that nasty Leveson thing and receiving some fairly tough questions due to Dacre's editorship.
 
By D.C. Harrison
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#268532
The question I ask myself is what does the Mail (or Dacre) want? Is there a plan beyond just making loads of cash through sales/website hits?

I suppose I also wonder what kind of man Dacre is? I'm a bit ill-informed in that area, though Malcom (as per) has clearly studied the form.

"Dacre's Drip" always seemed the perfect description to me, as I know plenty of people who read the Mail (including, depressingly, my own parents) who may well say "oh, it's just a paper" but can come out with little bits - usually about immigration or the unemployed - that betrays the fact that it does sink in.

Another question would be is there anything to be done to oppose it, or do the public at large generally subscribe to the Dacre vision? I just wish I was smart enough to add some actual insight.
Last edited by D.C. Harrison on Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
 
By Malcolm Armsteen
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#268533
The answer is, of course, that it makes lots of money for Viscount Rothermere (51st richest man in Britain) as well as suiting his general political purpose. Though how he regards Dacre's Disdain for Iggle Piggle I'm not sure. Perhaps, in Nye Bevan's words, Dacre has stuffed his mouth with gold.
 
By oboogie
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#268544
Malcolm's summary is excellent.

The primary purpose of the Mail, as with any private business, is to deliver a healthy profit for it's owners. So that's Dacre's motivation. Secondarily to that I would suggest also that power and influence are also a large part of his ambition as well.

He's achieved both phenomenally successfully - it never fails to astonish me every time it's mentioned that a British tabloid is the world's most successful online newsource.
Especially one which is so shite.
By Carlos The Badger
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#268547
oboogie wrote:He's achieved both phenomenally successfully - it never fails to astonish me every time it's mentioned that a British tabloid is the world's most successful online newsource.
Especially one which is so shite.
Is it, though?

It could be, in the same way that P. Thomas is a Political Cartoonist of the Year.

I don't know if this has been posted before but Slate.com did this particularly good analysis of the ShiteRag's claims back in February.

The World’s Most Popular Online Newspaper?
 
By oboogie
Membership Days Posts
#268554
Carlos The Badger wrote: Is it, though?
I've really no idea, but, as I say, it's often quoted as such.
Carlos The Badger wrote: It could be, in the same way that P. Thomas is a Political Cartoonist of the Year.
Isn't that subjective though? I thought it was on a vote by his peers.
By Carlos The Badger
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#268555
oboogie wrote:Isn't that subjective though? I thought it was on a vote by his peers.
Nah, we've been through this in the cartoon thread. I did a check and couldn't find a reference to him being awarded any such thing by any recognised body. It turns out that Dirty Des "awarded" it to him. Or something similar.
 
By oboogie
Membership Days Posts
#268557
Carlos The Badger wrote:
oboogie wrote:Isn't that subjective though? I thought it was on a vote by his peers.
Nah, we've been through this in the cartoon thread. I did a check and couldn't find a reference to him being awarded any such thing by any recognised body. It turns out that Dirty Des "awarded" it to him. Or something similar.
Right, so it is subjective.
Whereas the Mailonline's success is measurable.
By Carlos The Badger
Membership Days Posts
#268562
Depends on how you define subjective. I doubt Dirty Des (if that who it was) awarded it to him based on any personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. It's just a load of cynical bollocks aimed at making Thomson either feel like he's a proper artist or to somehow make his target audience think they're looking at cutting-edge political satire. In that case it's pretty objective.
 
By oboogie
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#268566
Carlos The Badger wrote:Depends on how you define subjective. I doubt Dirty Des (if that who it was) awarded it to him based on any personal feelings, tastes, or opinions. It's just a load of cynical bollocks aimed at making Thomson either feel like he's a proper artist or to somehow make his target audience think they're looking at cutting-edge political satire. In that case it's pretty objective.
The difference between objectivity and subjectivity is the difference between fact and opinion. Facts are objective and provably true; however, in this case there are no clear facts, merely Desmond's (clearly biased) opinion. As you suggest it may not be Desmond's opinion that Thomas is the best cartoonist of the year, however, he is of the opinion that Thomas should be awarded that title. Therefore I conclude that the award is subjective because it is based on one man's biased opinion.
 
By Timbo
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#268567
Remember that the Mail only falls as high in the chart as it does, because they include subsidiary titles such as This Is Money in the rankings. By that logic, I think News International probably win the day...
 
By oboogie
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#268568
Timbo wrote:Remember that the Mail only falls as high in the chart as it does, because they include subsidiary titles such as This Is Money in the rankings.
That's right as is pointed out in Carlos' link. Doesn't alter the fact that Mailonline frequently get quoted as the world's most successful online newsource.
Timbo wrote:By that logic, I think News International probably win the day...
What? Win what day?
By Andy McDandy
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#268585
Great post and thread, Malcolm.

During the NOTW business last year, there was a heavily shown bit of footage from inside Fortress Wapping, featuring a sign on a wall saying "News is anything that makes people go 'Gee Whizz!'". Bit of a crude message, but IMO an accurate summary of the sort of stuff that gets into the Sun. Take a look some time at the 'Sun Spot' pieces down the side of the pages - quirky stories cribbed from the local and regional press for the most part, often distilled into a line or two - "Grandmother explodes during her own funeral service", that sort of thing.

Is there a similar criteria for news that gets into the Mail (either print or online)? Yes, I think. Aside from the sport and business (and fair play to Dacre and Rothermere, they haven't stooped - as Desmond has - to using the business pages to score points of their rivals), the common thread seems to be "News is anything that makes you go 'Tch, honestly!'". Seriously. The stories can be boiled down, alarmingly frequently, into:

PLU has something bad happen to them (implied unfairly).
Non-PLU has something good happen to them (implied unfairly, or at the expense of a PLU).
Body that is not approved of does something bad (expected).
Body that is not approved of does something good (for once, harrumph, took your bloody time about it...).
Outsider is quirky, eccentric, ultimately harmless.
Outsider is sinister.
PLU does something unconventional, is applauded for it.
Non-PLU does something unconventional, is castigated for it.
Woman has breasts (who does she think she is, flaunting them like that? Go on, have a good look at the brazen hussy).

BTW on the Paul Thomas accolades, it always makes me wonder how so many newspapers can lay claim to being 'newspaper of the year'. The answer, I suspect, is that it's a bit like being the president of the USA - even if you were last newspaper of the year back in 1993, you can lay claim to the title for life.
 
By Timbo
Membership Days Posts
#268637
oboogie wrote:
Timbo wrote:Remember that the Mail only falls as high in the chart as it does, because they include subsidiary titles such as This Is Money in the rankings.
That's right as is pointed out in Carlos' link. Doesn't alter the fact that Mailonline frequently get quoted as the world's most successful online newsource.
Timbo wrote:By that logic, I think News International probably win the day...
What? Win what day?
If you include sister titles and other sites owned by the same company, NI own hundreds of news sites all over the world, so if they used the logic of the Daily Mail, they could claim any of theirs to be the biggest. It's farcical.

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