1985 UK advert for the Daily Mail.
The Daily Mail is a British newspaper, currently published in a tabloid format. First published in 1896 by Lord Northcliffe, it is the United Kingdom’s second biggest-selling daily newspaper after The Sun. Its sister paper, The Mail on Sunday was launched in 1982. An Irish edition of the paper was launched in 2006. The Daily Mail was Britain’s first daily newspaper aimed at what is now considered the middle-market and the first to sell a million copies a day.
The Mail was originally a broadsheet, but switched to a compact format on 3 May 1971, the 75th anniversary of its founding. On this date it also absorbed the Daily Sketch, which had been published as a tabloid by the same company. Its long-standing rival, the Daily Express, has a similar political stance and target readership, and currently has a circulation of about 730,000. The publisher of the Mail, the Daily Mail and General Trust is currently a FTSE 250 company, and the paper has a circulation of more than two million, giving the third-largest circulations of any English language daily newspaper, and one of the highest of any newspaper in the world.
Circulation figures according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, in October 2007 show gross sales of 2,400,143 for the Daily Mail, compared with 789,867 for the Daily Express. According to a December 2004 survey, 53% of Daily Mail readers voted for the Conservative party, compared to 21% for Labour and 17% for the Liberal Democrats.
The Daily Mail, devised by Alfred Harmsworth (later Lord Northcliffe) and his brother Harold (later Lord Rothermere), was first published on 4 May 1896. It was an immediate success. It cost a halfpenny at a time when other London dailies cost one penny, and was more populist in tone and more concise in its coverage than its rivals. Soon after its launch it had more than half a million readers.
With Harold running the business side of the operation, and Alfred as Editor, the Mail from the start adopted a imperialist political stance, taking a patriotic line in the Second Boer War, leading to claims that it was not reporting the issues of the day objectively. From the beginning, the Mail also set out to entertain its readers with human interest stories, serials, features and competitions (which were also the main means by which the Harmsworths promoted the paper).
In 1906, the paper offered £1,000 for the first flight across the English Channel, and £10,000 for the first flight from London to Manchester. Punch magazine thought the idea preposterous and offered £10,000 for the first flight to Mars, but by 1910 both the Mail’s prizes had been won. (For full list see Daily Mail aviation prizes.)
In 1908, the Daily Mail began the Ideal Home Exhibition, which it still runs today.
The paper was accused of warmongering before the outbreak of World War I, when it reported that Germany was planning to crush the British Empire. Northcliffe created controversy by advocating conscription when the war broke out. On 21 May 1915, Northcliffe wrote a blistering attack on Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War. Kitchener was considered a national hero, and overnight the paper’s circulation dropped from 1,386,000 to 238,000. 1,500 members of the London Stock Exchange ceremonially burned the unsold copies and launched a boycott against the Harmsworth Press. Prime Minister H. H. Asquith accused the paper of being disloyal to the country.
When Kitchener died, the Mail reported it as a great stroke of luck for the British Empire. The paper then campaigned against Asquith, who resigned on 5 December 1916. His successor, David Lloyd George, asked Northcliffe to be in his cabinet, hoping it would prevent him from criticising the government. Northcliffe declined.
Info taken from Wikipedia