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May 14, 2014

Piers Morgan ‘resigns’ and six-strong team launches website for Daily Mail: Ten years ago this week

By William Turvill

Press Gazette this week launches a new feature looking at the news that was making headlines in UK journalism ten years ago this week.

The week beginning Monday 10 May 2004 saw two particularly noteworthy news items for Press Gazette: the "resignation" of Piers Morgan from the Daily Mirror and the launch of an exciting new website for the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday.

Bereft of any form of instant social media like Twitter, Press Gazette put an alert out on its website announcing “Piers Morgan resigns” on 13 May.

It later emerged that Morgan had been sacked by the Mirror after the newspaper published fake photographs of British soldiers abusing an Iraqi on its front page (right).

The Mirror said it would be “inappropriate” for Morgan to continue as editor after it fell victim to a “calculated and malicious hoax”.

Since leaving the Mirror, Morgan has gone from strength to strength, making a name for himself in the United States, while the executive who sacked him, Sly Bailey, left the company in 2012 after journalists on the Mirror and People newspapers called for her to resign.

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Members of the British Association of Journalists, the recognised union at the Mirror titles, passed a motion expressing outrage at the "further slaughter" of journalists and accused Trinity Mirror management of being "incapable of running national newspapers" in February 2012. In May of that year, Bailey announced she would be departing as chief executive.

Mail titles launch interactive website

Elsewhere, Press Gazette reported the news that the Mail titles were to launch a new website: Dailymail.co.uk/Mailonsunday.co.uk.

The six-strong editorial team was to work on “breaking news, unique content and interactive features”.

PG reported that the site had a "soft launch" without publicity, but would be heavily promoted in the Mail titles from the following week.

Avril Williams, editorial director of Associated New Media, which produced the site, said: "We are taking the content from the papers that's relevant to a web audience – a mixture of news, features, celebrities and real-life stories. But a lot of stories featured in the paper are very long and don't work on the web.

"There will also be interactive debates, picture grabs, video links and a lot of breaking news and original specials and packages."

Here is the Mail's website in all its glory in May 2004, courtesy of Archive.org:

The Mail Online now employs hundreds of journalists across offices in three continents and is the most popular news website in the world. In March, according to ABC, the website received 11.2m unique daily users.

Here's Press Gazette's website from the same period:

NEWS IN BRIEF

Rex Features founders honoured at agency’s 50th birthday bash

Sunday Mirror reporter who posed as Old Trafford steward is charged with theft

Wiltshire Times celebrates 150 years

BBC probe fails to end post-Hutton anger

Sports editor retires after 44 years on Guardian

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

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