Unlike the days of print, there’s no physical limit to how much content a news outlet can publish on the web.
Given that the internet offers newsrooms the possibility to publish thousands of stories a day, how do the UK’s top news outlets compare when it comes to how much they put online and what they choose to write about?
Press Gazette tracked the content published to the RSS feeds of eight major UK news sites over a week between 13 and 19 September. While the amount of content varies depending on the time of the year, the number of reporters available and the intensity of the news agenda, we wanted to get a snapshot of what the UK’s biggest newsrooms produce in a week.
The sites selected were partly based on whether we could find comprehensive RSS feeds. The BBC total is for its national news sites in the UK.
Mail Online published the most content of any of the newsrooms we looked at. Between 13 and 19 September, Mail Online published an average of 1,490 stories each day – or 1,640 stories per weekday and 14 stories per hour between Monday and Friday.
On Saturday and Sunday the publisher published an average of 1,114 articles per day. Most newsrooms have fewer reporters on duty during weekends. Mail owner DMGT said in 2020 that it published around 1,700 stories a day across the whole business.
The high content strategy appears to be working. There were 392 million visits globally to dailymail.co.uk in September according to Similarweb, making it the fifth most popular English language news website in the world and the most popular UK-based commercial news publisher globally.
Mail Online was far ahead by publication frequency among the news outlets in our snapshot. Its closest competitor was the Mirror, which published an average of 981 articles each weekday (898 over the whole week).
Fellow Reach title Manchester Evening News published an average of 160 articles each day on Monday to Friday, coming in seventh among the titles in our sample.
A note on methodology: Press Gazette tracked as many RSS feeds that we could identify for each publisher on our list and used these to capture details of the articles published during the week of our research in a spreadsheet. While we tried to ensure that we included all published articles, it is possible that some RSS feeds and therefore articles might have been missed. Duplicate articles that appeared in more than one feed were removed.
Some major publishers, such as The Sun, were excluded as we could not find a comprehensive enough RSS feed sample. Meanwhile it is worth noting that the BBC's data includes its reporting from across the four regions: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Press Gazette contacted all the publishers included in our dataset to give them an opportunity to review our data. Only The Guardian chose to comment.
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Despite the possibility of publishing literally hundreds, if not thousands, of articles each day, some publishers have deliberately focused on cutting down the amount of content they produce.
[Read more: Charted: The biggest news topics of summer 2023]
Why less is more for The Guardian
The Guardian was fourth among the websites we looked at in terms of the amount of content published during the week, with an average of 400 articles on a weekday and 373 daily pieces across seven days. But it said it has cut back its content in recent years.
Chris Moran, head of editorial innovation at Guardian News and Media, told Press Gazette that in 2016 the publisher looked at its output to assess whether it was publishing too much journalism.
"The factors involved here included in particular whether we were publishing more than we were able to meaningfully show to readers," said Moran.
"This project led us to look carefully at the whole process of commissioning and set up processes which continue to this day. Ultimately we cut back our content by just over a third and, taking into account the volatility of the news cycle, our output has remained broadly steady ever since."
Claire Phipps, The Guardian’s digital editor (live) , added that the number of articles the title publishes varies according to the UK and global news agenda.
"Over the last decade there has been a significant growth in the amount of online journalism we publish including live blogs, video and audio," Phipps said. "The digital teams are careful to ensure that our audience can always find the journalism and information that they need, but aren't overwhelmed with what's available.
"We sometimes make a conscious choice to publish fewer stories and instead find ways to help readers access the stories we think are most important. This may be through explainers, summaries or regularly updated 'catch-up' articles."
Celebrity vs world news: What topics featured the most
It was not possible to categorise articles using the same topics across different outlets as publishers broke down their RSS feeds in different ways. The BBC for example groups many articles by which part of the world they cover. Even with this in mind, it is possible to get an idea of where publishers focus their efforts.
During the week covered by the study, the bulk of articles published by Mail Online were categorised as "News" (18% of articles in our sample) or "Latest" (17%), which cover a variety of genres. However, TV and showbiz also featured strongly (12%) as did articles from the Daily Mail’s US (12%) and Australian editions (10%).
Like Mail Online, much of the Mirror’s content was grouped under its front page feed (covering top stories) and news, however, sport (making up 12% of articles captured during the week) and its 3am celebrity news section (10%) also accounted for significant amounts of articles.
At The Guardian, while most stories were grouped under the homepage and top stories feeds (53%) which cover everything from economy to sports, world news also featured heavily accounting for 13% of stories.
Correction: this story was amended on 3 November to revise down the Guardian's output which had mistakenly been duplicated in the dataset.
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