Paul Dacre Departs from The Daily Mail
A round-up of the hottest takes from the best UK Indy Media
Paul Dacre will move on as editor of The Daily Mail this autumn after more than a quarter of a century in the role. It’s a chance to reflect on the current influence and narratives of right-wing establishment media in which he has played such a key role.
Described by The Mirror’s Kevin Maguire as “The Godfather of Fleet Street”, Dacre has had a huge impact on national debate and psyche. It’s unlikely any other press baron had more of the ear of Theresa May. David Cameron was clearly scared of him and Labour leaders prior to Corbyn also tailored their output to be more tolerable to a paper that would never endorse them.
Regardless of the variety of media now available, it’s clear that conservative narratives still hold a great deal of sway. The Tories are ahead in the polls despite stagnant wages, rising penury, disintegrating public services, and infrastructure, all alongside a Brexit strategy as clear as the mud it is bogged down in. The abject racism behind the Windrush episode doesn’t seem to have harmed them too much either.
The Future of The Mail
Dacre goes on to chair Associated Newspapers, who owns The Mail On Sunday, Mail Online, and The Metro as well as The Daily Mail.
Mail Online is the most popular English language news-site on earth, The Metro is widely read by an audience less typical of The Mail. Both are less overtly reactionary than The Daily Mail, but that can make them a more effective Trojan Horse for some agendas.
The rightward drift in the tone of UK politics of late is underlined by the fascistic tone of such headlines as “Enemies Of The People” and “Crush The Saboteurs.”
Now, as much as ever, The Mail is engaged in the doublespeak of an elite-owned paper pretending to be “anti-elitist” in its war against The Lords and what it calls “the establishment.” Again, there are parallels with fascism – a creed that often claims to be anti-establishment while acting very much in the establishment’s favour. While it’s easy to berate a “liberal elite”, the unspoken but likely alternative of an authoritarian elite is even worse.
While some of those opposed to Dacre’s politics will be rejoicing, this news is hardly some kind of downfall. He leaves on something of a high and is essentially being moved upstairs.
But his replacement, Geordie Gregg, from The Mail On Sunday could herald a mellowing, at least on the surface. According to The Guardian, his appointment is part of an attempt to de-toxify the brand of The Mail, which has become a byword for bitter reactionary paranoia. gregg is notably more pro-EU than Dacre and the pair is known to have clashed on more than one occasion.
How Gregg’s tenure plays out obviously remains to be seen. He may have more moderate leanings but seeks to keep the base onside while sister platforms carry on the job of doing the less hard-edged stuff. Certainly, the “gammon” parade of columnists is unlikely to be going anywhere soon.
Right-wing framing continues to dominate mainstream media, their memes and tropes are also widespread on social media. The hate preaching of The Daily Mail underwrites the hard and far0right in the UK who increasingly act in parallel and concert with their US equivalents.
Strong independent progressives media has to be a priority for those of us seeking to counter-balance these old and new influences and their disastrous real-world consequences.
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Journalism Under Threat Across Europe – Journalism.co.uk / Open Democracy
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Shadow Wars – Bureau of Investigative Journalism
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