Mail Online has accused The Tab of a “hatchet job” as the website for students quoted numerous unnamed sources complaining about the workplace culture at the world’s most popular newspaper website.
The Tab reports that ten of the 16 graduate trainees who joined the Mail Online’s graduate scheme in 2016 had already left.
Mail Online has confirmed that those who leave early from the scheme can be asked to repay up to £1,500 to contribute to the cost of their training.
The Tab investigation follows Press Gazette’s report in August about the “ripping culture” at a national newspaper website leading most of the graduate trainees to leave for a career in PR.
The Mail Online graduate scheme lasts a year and includes two months on a news agency and two months working for a local newpaper before returning to the Derry Street headquarters.
The Tab quoted one former employee as saying: “On the grad scheme you get the shit shifts. You will work through the weekend, a lot of us were working nights, 5pm-2am, Friday to Tuesday, or Thursday to Monday.”
Another said: “What you actually do all day is take an article from a news agency, and copy and paste it over to your article, and then add bullet points and captions. That’s about it really.
“You’re given an hour to do an article and any longer they start getting pissed. They expect eight stories a day.”
They added: “People get bollocked all the time, it wasn’t just us, everyone gets bollocked. I didn’t really have a problem with editors telling you ‘this is shit, you need to redo it’. People are highly strung, it’s a high pressure place, and people should be prepared for that.
“Frankly, after a couple of times, it toughens you up. But it does beat you down. You go into work hoping not to get bollocked as opposed to hoping to be told ‘this article was good’ or ‘that was a good idea’.”
A Mail Online spokesperson said that it “makes no apologies for being a demanding place to work”.
They said: “Each year Mail Online offers recent journalism graduates placements in its trainee programme, giving them the unique opportunity to learn from the best and brightest in journalism.
“This is a robust and demanding programme that sets them up for success as journalists at both Mail Online and throughout their career.
“Trainees are advised that this programme will be both extensive and exhaustive and that a website that reports the news 24 hours per day, seven days a week will involve working weekend and evening shifts.
“Mail Online invests substantial sums in the first-class training course it provides, which is respected industry-wide, so it is only reasonable should a trainee leave before making a contribution to the website then they will be liable to repay some of the costs associated with the training course.
“This is up to a maximum of £1,500, depending on their length of time in the programme.
“We have high standards which is why we are the biggest English-language newspaper website in the world and why our alumni populate the higher echelons of many other leading news and entertainment websites, both in the UK and US, and why our model has been imitated multiple times but never equalled.”
The Tab said it had quoted Mail Online “in full” however it omitted the following section of the quote:
“This is clearly a hatchet job to please The Tab’s new investors. We are amazed you do not have the integrity to declare your interest after accepting millions of dollars from News, one of our biggest competitors.”