The Scandalous Success of the Daily Mail

In January 1944 the Daily Mail became the first transoceanic newspaper, having transformed the relationship between politics, the press and the people. How powerful is it really?

Daily Mail illustration © Ben Jones/Heart Agency.

Proponents of the idea of the press as a ‘Fourth Estate’ have long championed the notion that democracy can only work when the media shines a light on the darkest corners of government (in 2017 the Washington Post went as far as to adopt it as a tagline: ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’). In the 21st century discussions about the influence of the media on politics persist; critics point to the close relationship between media proprietors and political leaders (such as Rupert Murdoch and Margaret Thatcher, or Rupert Murdoch and Tony Blair) as a sign of the corruption of politics and the free press.

None of these debates are new. Nor are they simple. The relationship between politics, the press and the people is complicated. In many ways, the roots of the issue can be traced to the rise of Lord Northcliffe’s Daily Mail, arguably the first modern, truly popular, national (and, from 1944, transoceanic) newspaper. Eighty years on, the Daily Mail is one of the most recognisable newspapers in the world and is often accused of wielding its political power irresponsibly.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.