Saturday 19 June 2010

The Mail tuts while its website leers

Your starter for ten: which person of international importance has been mentioned in 43 Mail Online articles since the start of June?

Answer: Katy Perry.

As Perry is currently in a relationship with Mail hate figure Russell Brand, you'd think they'd stay well clear. But they simply have to report on her when she continually does such newsworthy things.

For example, when she wears a dress. Or when she wears a dress. Or wears glasses. Or a dress. Or wears a dress. Or goes out - guess what? - wearing a dress.

And those are just some of the fascinating exclusives from the last week.

She's far ahead of the other people the Mail website is currently obsessed with: Kim Kardashian, Kelly Brook and Miley Cyrus are each averaging a meagre one pointless article per day this month.

This is, apparently, the shape of things to come.

According to Peter Kirwan in the Press Gazette, Mail Online has recently opened an office in Los Angeles in order to flood the website with even more wafer-thin celebrity crap.

Kirwan says that the office is being run by Elliot Wagland who has been:

advertising on Facebook for new recruits.

On Facebook? On life-ruining Facebook? The hypocrites.

Kirwan reports:

According to sources at the Mail, the number of US-focused articles running on Mail Online has increased sharply in recent weeks.

Mail Online’s plans could signal a renewed interest in building audiences and revenues in North America among British newspapers.

This seems obvious. As this blog has noted before, there seemed to be very little reason for the Mail to be following every insignificant move of Kardashian - someone with almost no public profile in the UK at all - unless it was trying desperately to attract visitors from America.

And the 'lads' mags' crowd.

The Mail has a bizarre love-hate relationship with lads' mags. Much the same as its attitude to Big Brother: it's a cultural disgrace, but we'll keep you informed of everything that's going on anyway.

The Mail has made it pretty clear it thinks men's magazines are 'explicit' and 'pornographic'. It has happily run criticism of them:

As well as having their own columnists speak out against them:

Yet while bemoaning men's magazines such as FHM on the one hand, the website happily runs extended adverts for them, and very happily reprints their pictures. Such as here, here and here.

It's not just the pictures. The Mail recently ran pictures and video of a 'provocative' and 'racy' shoot from Esquire.

And they have found it hard to contain their excitement over Kelly Brook's recent appearance on the cover of FHM, embedding the same 'behind the scenes' video of the shoot on not one, not two, but three articles.

The news that Brook will pose for Playboy has been mentioned repeatedly over the last week or so, pointlessly dragged in to such feeble headlines as Kelly Brook puts her legs on show in a leopard print mini dress (but fans will be seeing a whole lot more of her in Playboy).

A James Slack article from February entitled Roll back the raunch: Explicit pop videos 'should be banned before the 9pm watershed' gave sympathetic coverage to a report making recommendations about restricting access to raunchy pop videos and lads' mags. But the Mail gave the game away by illustrating it with a picture of a pop singer in knee high boots.

And they have never been slow to embed these 'sexually provocative' and 'raunchy' pop videos on their site either. For example, here, here and here. These articles usually have 'scroll down to watch the video' in bold and/or caps somewhere near the top, just so you don't miss out.

But while the Mail calls the BBC a disgrace for having adult material freely available on its iPlayer, material the Mail calls 'explicit', 'sexually provocative' and 'soft porn' is freely available on their site. Indeed, it is cynically included to make sure it attracts attention and visitors.

Of course, the Mail is a business. It knows sex sells - the more visitors it gets to its website, the easier it is to sell advertising space. So maybe the bottom line simply means more, err, bottoms online.

But whereas the newspaper promotes itself as moral, middle class and conservative, the website is like a downmarket version of Heat.

With the Mail Online's new LA office - which has been advertising for 'a freelance showbiz picture researcher' - it seems this gulf is set to get wider still.

(Big hat-tip to Tom_MKUK and others at the Mailwatch Forum.)


  1. Good piece - Mail Online's business model is going to be worth Nick Davies adding a new chapter to any reprint.

    Heat meets The National Enquirer: an absolute trashfest of celebrities; cynicism (cf manufactured outrage of Littlejohn and Moir); churnalised suburban tragedies; and fluff animal photomontage. All neatly packaged up with the freebies of the collect 50 tokens, send £9.99 variety.

    They're obviously vg at this but the styling of as the values-based voice of very decent Middle England would be hilarious if it wasn't also so sad. A truly appalling symbol of our media.

  2. Back when the Harmsworth brothers first started the Mail, their business model was built around three areas of interest: sex, health and money.

    No change there, then.


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