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Mail Online publisher Martin Clarke: 'How we rise to challenge of covering pandemic will define our careers'

DMG Media publisher Martin Clarke

Publisher of Mail Online Martin Clarke has told staff that how they cover the coronavirus pandemic will define their careers.

And in a rare all-hands email from the veteran newsman, Clarke assured colleagues the company will do all it can to keep them and their jobs safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Clarke, who founded Mail Online in 2007 and built it up to be the largest newspaper website in the world, has an industry reputation as a tough operator.

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But in the email he shows his softer side:

“I guess I have been in the news business longer than almost all of you.

“But the current pandemic crisis is easily the biggest story of my life. And I sincerely hope it will be the biggest any of you ever have to cover, however young you are.

“My parents lived through World War Two. For that generation, those years were the defining experience of their lives.

“Let’s hope this thing doesn’t last that long. But the next few months are likely to define the world we live in for years to come.

“They will define your individual lives.

“And how we rise to the challenge of covering them will define our careers.

“This is once-in-a-century history happening around you and, as journalists, it is our job to record it in real-time to the very best of our ability.

“I know all of you, while horrified at what is unfolding, will not shirk the duty of reporting it.”

He praised staff for a “superb” performance which has seen the entire 800+ global workforce of Mail Online move to home-working in a matter of days.

Traffic to Mail Online home pages is said to be up almost 50 per cent in every country.

Clarke said: “I don’t remotely say that to be boastful but to underline to you how important the work you do is to the millions of people around the world who seek out our home pages, apps and TV show every day.

“They trust you to tell them what they need to know. They rely on it.

“They will also want you to keep them entertained, cheered up and, yes, distracted.”

Warning that we are now entering a “darker period” in the unfolding pandemic drama he said: “It may be many months before some of us see each other again face to face, even if we live in the same country.

“But somehow we have to carry on. For those of you working from home that means maintaining your professional discipline – and morale – in isolation for many weeks, if not months. That is going to be harder than you think.”

He added: “With countries and communities facing months of isolation our role as a global news provider in keeping the world connected and informed will become more important than ever.

“Equally, our readers will expect us to scrutinise and hold our political leaders to account at a time when their decisions are literally a matter of life and death for millions.”

Addressing the concerns many staff will have about their financial future, he said: “The economic effects of this pandemic will long outlast the physical effects of the virus which, sooner or later, science will conquer.

“But I am determined that we will not be one of the casualties. In the meantime the company will do everything it can to keep you safe and your jobs safe.

“I know I can rely on all of you to play your part too. God bless all of you and your families.”

Read all Press Gazette coverage of the coronavirus pandemic and the news industry here

Read Martin Clarke’s email in full:

Dear colleague,

I guess I have been in the news business longer than almost all of you.

But the current pandemic crisis is easily the biggest story of my life.

And I sincerely hope it will be the biggest any of you ever have to cover, however young you are.

My parents lived through World War Two. For that generation, those years were the defining experience of their lives.

Let’s hope this thing doesn’t last that long.

But the next few months are likely to define the world we live in for years to come.

They will define your individual lives.

And how we rise to the challenge of covering them will define our careers.

This is once-in-a-century history happening around you and, as journalists, it is our job to record it in real-time to the very best of our ability.

I know all of you, while horrified at what is unfolding, will not shirk the duty of reporting it.

So far your performance has been superb. We have moved extremely smoothly in a matter of days to a predominantly working-from-home model.

Luckily we had planned for this well in advance but I thank you all for your patience and understanding while we executed it.

In particular I would like to pay tribute to the amazing work of our IT and tech teams around the world who have literally worked around the clock to get everyone kitted out and set up.

I know we can rely on them to keep our content up and running, come what may.

And you can all be immensely proud of our coverage so far in the US, UK and Australia which has been nothing short of amazing. Thank you all again.

That is the reason traffic to our various home pages is up almost 50 per cent in every country. I don’t remotely say that to be boastful but to underline to you how important the work you do is to the millions of people around the world who seek out our home pages, apps and TV show every day.

They trust you to tell them what they need to know. They rely on it.

They will also want you to keep them entertained, cheered up and, yes, distracted.

We are now entering a new and darker period in this unfolding drama.

Our countries are effectively cut off from one another.

Our cities are going into various forms of lock-down.

It may be many months before some of us see each other again face to face, even if we live in the same country.

But somehow we have to carry on.

For those of you working from home that means maintaining your professional discipline – and morale – in isolation for many weeks, if not months. That is going to be harder than you think.

I hope you will all take the time to maintain contact with each other. Use our virtual conferencing facilities like Vidyo and Zoom as much as you can and not just for work.

For those few of us still working in our offices it means adopting new ways of working and communicating with our staff and colleagues to maintain the quality of our news.

Despite the difficult circumstances we must do our best to maintain our standards.

With countries and communities facing months of isolation our role as a global news provider in keeping the world connected and informed will become more important than ever.

Equally, our readers will expect us to scrutinise and hold our political leaders to account at a time when their decisions are literally a matter of life and death for millions.

As Governor Cuomo of New York said yesterday when he exempted news organisations from a 50% reduction in headcount: ‘There’s never been a more important time for New Yorkers to receive accurate, real time information & the role of the media has never been more essential.’

That is only likely to become even truer for every one of our audiences in the hard times ahead.

Despite the best efforts of governments, thousands of businesses are going to go bust. Millions of people are going to lose their jobs. Are already losing their jobs.

The economic effects of this pandemic will long outlast the physical effects of the virus which, sooner or later, science will conquer.

But I am determined that as we will not be one of the casualties. In the meantime the company will do everything it can to keep you safe and your jobs safe.

I know I can rely on all of you to play your part too.

God bless all of you and your families.

And if anyone needs a good cry, click the link below.

Martin

 

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