Poacher turned gamekeeper
UK tabloid finally gives in to the lure of the web
Due to launch in February 2004, both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday sites will be produced by a small, dedicated web team.
"We are loathed to refer to them as just web journalists. This will be a team of experienced journalists who happen to work on the web." said Avril Williams, editorial director for Associated New Media.
The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday are owned by Associated Newspapers, and the group’s internet subsidiary Associated New Media (ANM) already publishes a host of sites including femail.co.uk, loot.com and londonjobs.co.uk.
"We had the courage to wait," she told dotJournalism.
"The Mail is our most precious brand and we wanted to be sure that our audience is ready, our advertisers are ready and that it will be profitable."
Ms Williams denied that the Mail’s print journalists are cynical about internet journalism.
"The web team work closely with the newspaper. It’s a sophisticated, integrated effort designed to complement both publications.
"We have a legal team watching, but copyright theft is not something that has been a problem for ANM."
In 2001, online IT news site The Register reported two cases where the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday had allegedly plagiarised copy from the web.
Kieren McCarthy, freelance writer for the Register, told dotJournalism that the Mail is famous for its scepticism of the internet.
"We ran a great story about Labour Party officials using pseudonyms to take over Plaid Cymru message boards," he told dotJournalism.
"The Daily Mail reproduced the article word for word in places - and under the political editor's byline. We sent a couple of terse emails and eventually received a cheque for £600, which we gave to charity."
In the same week, the Mail on Sunday ran a story using quotes from another site without permission and The Register began to campaign against them.
"Eventually they were embarrassed into changing their policy."
But the internet is taken more seriously now, says Mr McCarthy, and the Mail is likely to succeed online because it has learnt from everyone else’s mistakes.
"The Mail has just woken up to the internet. It wants to make money and it knows that it has a significant number of readers online."
"The Daily Mail has some impressive journalism and some excellent feature writing - it’s just a shame its politics are so offensive."
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