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

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Rachael Gallagher


History of Journalism

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

The Daily Mail was the first newspaper in Britain to sell one million copies. This was achieved in 1900, four years after the paper was first launched, but the newspaper was notably successful from the start, selling 300,000 copies the first day it was launched.

The Daily Mail was started by Alfred Harmsworth, later known as Lord Northcliffe, who is known as one of the first great press barons. The newspaper’s immediate success is due to a combination of factors, some due to Northcliffe, and others social and technological factors in the era the newspaper was released in.

The first factors to take into consideration are the changes that had already occurred in British press in the nineteenth Century, prior to the launch of the Daily Mail.

There are some important social factors to take into account. The elementary Education Act of 1870 led to an increase in literacy, resulting in more people in the lower classes being able to read a paper. Better working conditions had also been set, so people had more time to read papers.

. The removal of stamp duties in 1855 resulted in a cheaper stamp press meaning more people could afford to buy a paper. This cost was further reduced in 1861 when the excise duty on paper was abolished. Technological factors were a big influence on the growth of the popular press as a whole. Within a relatively short period of time (1860-1900) a huge array of new technology was introduced, including the telephone, electric telegraph, typewriter, high-speed rotary press and half tone block for the reproduction of photographs. As a whole, when Northcliffe launched the Daily Mail newsprint had become a lot cheaper and printing methods far more efficient. The expanding railway network also meant that papers could be distributed faster and farther a field.

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Modern Capitalism was also taking off, resulting in an age of materialism. This meant the beginning of mass advertising, crucial to financing newspapers. Large numbers of new publications started appearing, which meant the public would get more angles on stories. Papers started competing against each other more and more, which caused the quality of the papers to increase, and the layout to become more appealing.

By the late nineteenth Century American press was having a large influence over changing nature of the British press. British papers were copying the American sensationalism and design, with features such as ...

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