What factors enabled the Daily Mail to be so immediately successful when it was launched in 1896?

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Victoria Basye                                                                                     20/11/03


What factors enabled the Daily Mail to be so immediately successful when it was launched in 1896?

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 £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.

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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 ...

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