If you are based in the UK, you’d have to be living under a particularly large rock these past few days to have failed to notice the way The Daily Mail has laid into Ed Miliband’s late Father, and the subsequent repercussions. This response on the BBC Question Time show from Mehdi Hasan has to be one of the most articulate reactions I’ve seen so far. Additionally, as reported here in The Independent, Ed Miliband has called on the owner of the Daily Mail to examine the culture of his newspapers, after a reporter snuck into a memorial service for his uncle.
Whenever I see things like this being exposed, particularly when they are followed by attempts to defuse the situation by attributing the actions to an individual, or a handful of people, I’m reminded of a couple of excellent blog posts by FlipChartRick. The first one looks at Barclays trying to blame shortfallings on a few rogue traders and the second one looks at the same sidestepping tactic, this time courtesy of the now defunct News of the World. ‘The way stuff gets done around here’ goes beyond the few to the many.
In addition to what Ed Milliband is asking, people are calling for a boycott of the newspaper, and I’ve also seen calls to boycott the many companies who advertise in the newspaper. There could be an interesting conversation with the corporate social responsibility departments in these advertiser companies. They like to talk about how they monitor the companies they do business with, their supply chain credentials. Does this kind of behaviour fit that in that space?
One thing is for sure, it’s a tangled web, and beyond the newspaper, and the links to those businesses who advertise in it, what about other companies in the Daily Mail Group? To what extent should people choose, or not choose to engage with them?
For example, the same company publishes The Metro, which I think is one of the lamest excuses for a newspaper going. Yet go it indeed does, with north of a million people consuming this rag every day before leaving it strewn across train carriages and stations. The Metro is free of charge – and for the most part, free has no value.
So – if you’re a commuter, outraged by the Daily Mail, are you going to stop picking up a ‘free’ Metro every day and maybe think about investing 20p in a copy of The i (other newspapers are available) instead? Will people’s anger extend that one step beyond?
Beyond the print and online news world there are many more connections you could consider. The online recruitment company Evenbase, owner of the massive recruitment job board Jobsite, is also owned by the Daily Mail Group. If you’re looking for work, are you really going to take the time to look behind each job advert to see where the company ownership crumb trail takes you? I’m not for one second trying to suggest that all companies in the same stable are all culturally the same, but the success of these brands ultimately benefits the same people at the top of the Daily Mail tree. And according to The Guardian – that tree is looking in pretty good health right now:
But so far not one advertiser has pulled its business from the paper and DMGT’s share price has hardly budged. Indeed DMGT, valued at almost £3bn, is in rude health. Group revenues were up 2% in the 11 months to the end of August. Monthly unique web browsers of its Mail Online website are up 30% year-on-year to 138 million. DMGT’s newspaper operations, of which the two titles form the bulk, produced profits of £101m last year. The company has astutely ploughed the money from its cash cows into online ventures such as property website Zoopla and coupon company Wowcher.
As information becomes more and more available I suppose we should be grateful that it is now easier to spot these links and in so doing, make an informed choice about who you choose to do business with. And the truth is, the more you look, the harder it becomes to make a decision to boycott or avoid something in isolation.