View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Archive content
February 24, 2009

Mr Dacre, I’ve got a gentleman from the marketing department on the line for you. . .

By Peter Kirwan MM blog

Seen the Daily Mail‘s front page splash today? 

Social websites ‘harm a child’s brain”.

This follows last week’s corker on Facebook as a cause of cancer. 

I’ll leave you to catch up on the reaction (it’s plastered all over the place, although sadly, Ben Goldacre appears to be exercising some self-restraint).

In passing, however, I thought I’d link to the views of two mainstream PR professionals — Will Sturgeon and Stephen Waddington — who seem content to criticise the Mail publicly. 

PRs critising the Mail publicly for ‘lazy’reporting? Oh yes.

And there’s more. Sturgeon suggests that David Derbyshire, the author of the splash, is ‘as coherent as a holocaust denier at the end of a ‘drink your own bodyweight in Absinthe’ competition”.

Content from our partners
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution
Papermule: Workflow automation for publishers

Presumably, Sturgeon wasn’t thinking about Ken Livingstone and Oliver Finegold when he wrote that.

But still. . . here’s what I want to know: how does the Mail‘s attack dog coverage square with its demographics?

In commercial terms, this is a woefully regressive editorial line. It boxes the Mail into a demographic trap populated by know-nothingers, flat earth enthusiasts, the elderly and hypochondriacs (among others).

Facebook is now the Britain’s second most-visited website after Google UK. On Christmas Day (no less), the site received one in 22 of UK internet visits.

As Hitwise attests, social networking sites now account for over 10% of all Internet visits.

This is one hell of a constituency to alienate — both numerically, and in terms of relative attractiveness to advertisers. It includes a fair old dollop of Middle England, too.

All of which makes me curious about whether the Mail has run any research on its readers’ attitudes to social networking in the recent past. 

Perhaps it has. At the very least, you’d hope executives took note of the negative tone of so many of the comments appended by readers to last week’s Facebook story.

This morning’s splash seems to be attracting similar levels of ridicule.

Notably, the ‘kids’ brains’story dominated the front page of the Mail‘s print edition this morning. But as of 4pm this evening, I can’t find a link to it on Mail Online’s homepage.

Odd, that.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network