The first issue of the Daily Mail appeared on 4th May 1896. It was an immediate success and circulation quickly achieved 500,000. It is the only paper to remain in the same family ownership for the entire twentieth century. A man called Alfred Harmsworth, who later became known as Lord Northcliffe, created it. He was born in Chapelizod near Dublin in 1865 and was already taking an interest in journalism when he began editing his school magazine. In 1888 he and his brother Harold published their own magazine, which within 4 years had become a great success and was selling over a million copies a week.
This success helped him finance the children’s paper, Comic Cuts and a woman’s magazine, Forget-Me-Nots. In 1894 he took on the Evening News which at this point was nearly bankrupt and dramatically changed it making yet another success. Now Harmsworth wanted to start a new newspaper that would be based on and American style. This was the Daily Mail By the time the first copy was released there had already been over 65 dummy runs which had amounted to a total cost of i?? 40, 000. At this point the newspaper only costed a halfpenny and contained eight pages.
Slogans used to sell the newspaper included ‘A Penny Newspaper for One Halfpenny’ and ‘The Busy Man’s Daily Newspaper’. Harmsworth wanted the paper to be slightly different. It gave considerable space to sport and human- interest stories and was the first paper to include a female section, which covered topics such as fashion and cookery. The Daily Mail was the first newspaper in Britain that catered for a new reading public that needed something simpler, shorter and more readable than those that had previously been available.
These factors made the Daily Mail differ from other newspapers possibly helping to lead to its immediate success. Two new innovations introduced by Harmsworth were the banner headline that went right across the page and the publication of serials which had an average length of 100, 000 words. The opening episode was 5,000 words and had to have a dramatic impact on the readers. This was followed by episodes of 1,500 to 2,000 words every day. The Daily Mail showed strong interest in the Boer War and by 1899 sales soared to over a million.
Harmsworth encouraged readers to buy the Daily Mail for nationalistic reasons making it clear to them that his newspaper stood “for the power, the supremacy and the greatness of the British Empire”. This showed that the paper was patriotic and supported its country during hard times. It attracted a different class of people, contributing to its success. Harmsworth also used subjects of public interest in his newspapers. He promoted things such as the telephone, electric light, photography, motorcycles and motor- cars.
In fact he was so passionate about cars that Harmsworth prohibited the editor of the Daily Mail from reporting automobile accidents. Although these factors helped to increase the Daily mail’s audience, a factor that lead to a significant increase in the audience was the use of promotional activities. One of these included the offer of prizes for the first-ever flights across the Channel and Atlantic. During the was Alfred Harmsworth, now Lord Northcliffe was determined that the Daily Mail should be the official paper of the British army.
Every day 10,000 copies of the paper were delivered to the Western Front by military motor cars. He also had the revolutionary idea of using front-line soldiers as news sources. In August 1914 he announced a scheme where he would pay soldiers for articles written about their experiences. This revolutionary idea of course encouraged more readers to buy the paper as they would get a greater insight into the war. The Daily Mail presented a new idea which catered for the potential of a new large class of literate readers. The people had not yet been provided with an attractive, affordable daily paper.
Most other daily papers only reached about ten thousand in comparison with mail, which reached sales of up to a million in its first year. It claimed an initial sale of 897215. These new potential readers were lower middle class, upwardly mobile with increasing leisure and spending power to enlarge and satisfy their curiosity about the world. As their needs had not been catered for before, the Daily Mail presented an ideal opportunity for them and again an increase in Harmsworth’s readership. Another factor noticed by Northcliffe was the importance of appealing to women.
The Daily Mirror was a paper that was directed towards women, but before this Northcliffe included articles for women in the Daily Mail. For example, articles about fashion and cookery. Northcliffe’s natural flair gave him the edge on other papers and he also introduced the first paper to be printed out of London (Manchester). The Daily Mail was a paper that simply, reported the news. An important initial selling point being the news and other factors such as the Empire, politics, crime, accidents and sport. It also covered topics such as chat and gossip about the rich and famous. It gave people a sense of familiarity.
With the paper covering so many topics, it meant that more people would be interested in reading it. Before this paper was published, it was quoted that journalism only dealt with a few aspects of life. The Daily Mail extended this idea to life as a whole. It made it a good product, which was affordable and good value. Fundamental to the success of the Daily Mail was a steady stream of advertising revenue. This is what enabled the paper to be billed as “a penny newspaper for one halfpenny”. The new reliance on advertising presented an equally new problem. It put a stress on circulation.
Northcliffe and his brother Harold, later known as Lord Rothermere, founded the Audit Bureau of Circulations, to enable advertisers to have a reliable gauge of value for their money. The Daily Mail was also the first paper that people could buy shared in, making profitability a priority, for the purpose of paying dividends which, in turn, put a premium on advertising revenue and therefore on circulation. This would not have succeeded if people did not like what they had read. Lord Northcliffe founded the paper, but much attention must be focused on the help of his fellow workers and ideas brought across foreign seas.
Many of the ideas about style and content came from the United States. An example would be the “Interview”, which had been invented around the time of the American Civil War. A business manager of Northcliffe, Pomeroy Burton, was brought over from the New York World. By applying the lessons learned in magazine journalism to daily newspapers, Northcliffe increased his success. At each point in the development of newspaper content across the last century, editors have responded to popular taste in order to optimise sales and advertising revenue.
The Daily Mail remains almost unique. It is the same kind of paper as when it was founded. It is still family owned and continues the idea of family values of the most traditional kind. All these ideas were presented by Northcliffe and have lead to the Daily Mail becoming a very successful and traditional paper. It has taken a great leap forward and today is one of the leaders in the sector. Associated Newspapers involve the Group’s national dailies, such as the Daily Mail, the Mail On Sunday and the Evening Standard, plus a freebie, Metro.
Northcliffe Newspapers manages fifty dailies and weeklies, including the recently acquired Bristol group titles. All the factors that have been discussed, combined, have led to the success of the Daily Mail some being of less importance, but still relevant in contributing in making the paper what it is today. It currently sells for 40p and 70p on a Sunday. Average circulation this year has reached figures of up to 2,473,965 and an average readership of 5,905,000 between January and June this year. These figures confirm the papers success continues today over a hundred years after it was established.