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Mon Mar 7, 2016, 07:31 AM

My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online

Ex-MailOnline "freelance news writer" James King recounts his experiences working in the world's most successful clickmill:


MailOnline—which has since changed its name to DailyMail.com in order to "make deeper inroads … with ad firms on Madison Avenue," according to the Wall Street Journal—has been widely hailed as a blueprint for the future of online journalism. It reaches hundreds of millions of readers, and it has hired former BuzzFeed COO Jon Steinberg to help turn those gargantuan traffic numbers into profit. Earlier this year, DailyMail.com acquired U.S.-based site Elite Daily, the so-called "Voice of Generation Y."

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.


King's experiences are borne out by accounts from other ex-freelancers:

James King's account of his experiences working in the Mail Online office in New York has been rejected by the Mail, which has answered his allegations point by point. {The Mail's rebuttal can be found at the link above.} Two other journalists who worked as writers in the same office at the same time have meanwhile contacted SubScribe to offer their insight on the way the operation works. Both have since moved on.


Alex writes: In my memory, there wasn’t a single story out of the hundreds I wrote that didn’t come from another news site. You were assigned a story from a rolling list of links to other publications and then you rewrote it. You could do a little extra googling for other news sites to see if there were any extra facts, if you wanted. If there was a story without pics we’d rarely do it, but if a news site such as a local ABC affiliate had a story on it, we’d just take grabs from their videos.

The worst was when, as King described, you’d be assigned to rip off a really great article from say, The New York Times. A long form piece of exclusive journalism like that - it’s hard to make it your own, especially when you’ve got about an hour and a half in which to do it.

My headlines were frequently changed (often to include typos) to make them more salacious, and, as King wrote, often made factually incorrect. I was once berated for neglecting to include the words ‘cheerleader in bikini’ in my headline. Anything involving race or breasts is a big hit with the Mail editors and getting ‘Drudged’ (linked on the Drudge Report) was the ultimate compliment.

As far as I’m concerned, everything James King wrote is true. I worked at the Mail at the same time he was there and I think he let them off easy!

M writes: I worked there from spring 2013 to July 2014, first as a freelancer and later as staff.

James gives a pretty accurate account of how the newsroom works. Once you become staff you are expected to put in the occasional call to a police press officer or the actual subject of a story. However, with a high turnover of stories there was never time to wait for a call back - you normally have an hour and half to get the story link, rewrite it, add pictures and file.

The more senior reporters do more traditional reporting and if there's a big story they will go out and cover it.


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Reply My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online (Original post)
Denzil_DC Mar 2016 OP
Bad Dog Mar 2016 #1

Response to Denzil_DC (Original post)

Mon Mar 7, 2016, 09:23 AM

1. I'm not surprised.

I don't think there's anything that would shock me about that grubby organ.

Not only do we want to get rid of non dom status we need to backdate it twenty years or so.

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