Former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre has said he blames himself for helping create a culture in which news content is given away for free.
The chairman and editor-in-chief of Mail titles publisher Associated Newspapers has also said he once made Boris Johnson cry over lunch.
Writing in this week’s Spectator diary, Dacre said: “Research reveals that 77 per cent of millennials say they never pay for news.
“Having played a key role in launching the free Metro and free Mail Online, I bear a heavy responsibility for that lethal bacillus — the belief that journalism costs nothing.
“It doesn’t. Journalism is expensive and to argue otherwise is fake news of the most insidious kind.”
Dacre stepped down as editor of the Daily Mail in August last year after 26 years at the helm of the mid-market title, thanking staff for their “superlative journalism” in a letter pinned to a noticeboard.
He was replaced by former Mail on Sunday editor Geordie Greig, who has since softened the daily’s stance on Brexit established under Dacre.
Dacre said Mail Online was making “solid money from advertising” while the Mail is “still highly profitable”, but added: “…the British media generally is in a dreadful state”.
He pointed to Sky’s sale to an American firm, the “cadavers of the once mighty Mirro and Express being asset-stripped”, News UK paying out over phone-hacking and the Standard “being investigated for its financial links to a Saudi regime that murders journalists” to make his point.
Dacre was also scathing about Johnson a day after the former Mayor of London entered Downing Street as the new Prime Minister.
He said the pair had had “several emotional dalliances”, including a “lachrymose lunch (his tears not mine)”.
Dacre said Johnson had “the morals of an alley cat” and was critical of his relationship history, claiming he had advised the Prime Minister’s “phalanx of minders… to padlock his zipper”.
In a trading update this morning, the Daily Mail and General Trust, which publishes the Mail and Metro titles, revealed it had grown its media division revenues by 2 per cent year-on-year.
Picture: Reuters/Toby Melville