'My Year Ripping Off The Web With The Daily Mail Online'

8 March 2015

Gawker:

The production process was simple. During a day shift—8 a.m. to about 6 p.m—four news editors stationed together near Clarke’s desk assigned stories to reporters from a continually updated list of other publications’ articles, to which I did not have access. Throughout the day, they would monitor the website’s traffic to determine what was getting clicked on and what to remove from the homepage.

When a writer was free to write a story, he or she simply would shout “I’m free” and an editor would assign a link to an article on the list. In many cases, it would be accompanied by a sensationalized headline—one that may or may not have been accurate—for the writer to use.

During a typical 10-hour shift, I would catch four to seven articles this way. Unlike at other publications for which I’ve worked, writers weren’t tasked with finding their own stories or calling sources. We were simply given stories written by other publications and essentially told to rewrite them. And unlike at other publications where aggregation writers are encouraged to find a unique angle or to add some information missing from an original report, the way to make a story your own at the Mail is to pass off someone else’s work as your own.

And now you know why headlines like this pop up on DailyMail.com: Apple ‘will sell an 18-carat gold, sapphire and crystal watch for $10,000’ in unprecedented move away from its ‘affordable luxury’ trademark. Note that the headline misleadingly suggests $10,000 is the official price and there is no indication that this is, in fact, mere speculation.1

In fact, the use of single quotes to construct false statements is directly addressed by James King in the Gawker piece:

But so it goes at the Mail, which has all but abandoned the word “allegedly” in favor of putting quotation marks around a paraphrased description of the deed in question. The phrase in quotation marks never even appeared in the story. The punctuation served merely as a distancing mechanism.

It really is shameful.

1 For the benefit of people reading this in the future, this article was posted two days before Apple will announce its official pricing for the Watch lineup.