With editor Geordie Greig's departure, the Daily Mail needs to become relevant once more

Few breaking stories cause more excitement in a newsroom than the loss of an editor, and the surprise announcement of Geordie Greig’s removal from the Daily Mail hot seat is no exception.

Keith Gladdis: new Daily Mail editor Ted Verity 'should not be underestimated'
Keith Gladdis: new Daily Mail editor Ted Verity 'should not be underestimated'

"It’s carnage," said one former Daily Mail colleague as the ramifications of Greig’s departure became clear.

Ted Verity, the current Mail on Sunday editor, will take over from Greig by the end of this week. Verity will be in charge of both the daily and the Sunday titles, meaning an inevitable merger of the newsroom into a seven-day operation.

Martin Clarke, the power behind Mail Online, is another big winner in the shake-up.

Under legendary former editor Paul Dacre, the Daily Mail had always resisted closer relations with the more celebrity-focused Mail Online. Greig also worked hard to keep the print edition separate.

However, in his email to staff, Mail owner Lord Rothermere talked of creating a "modern digital/print media company". That puts Clarke, who is publisher of DMG Media with oversight over Mail Online and the print titles, firmly in the driving seat at Northcliffe House.

For many, last night’s announcement was a shock, but the warning signs have been there.

Greig was brought in to change the Daily Mail after more than 20 years under Dacre, one of the titans of Fleet Street. He softened the Daily Mail’s Brexit stance and changed the culture at the paper. Reporters spoke of getting regular congratulatory phone calls and gifts from the editor, something almost unheard of under the uncompromising Dacre.

But many complained the newspaper had lost its edge. Readers were confused about what it stood for, especially when Verity’s Mail on Sunday remained fiercely pro-Brexit.

More importantly, Daily Mail sales were badly hit by the pandemic. Its journalism remained exemplary and Greig’s Mail Force campaign raised more than £25m to get PPE to health workers, but under lockdown people got out of the habit of buying a newspaper.

Greig has failed to convince Rothermere that he can bring sales back to pre-pandemic levels.

Verity’s first job will be to persuade more people to part with 80p to buy a copy of the Daily Mail from the supermarket or local newsagent.

To do that the Daily Mail needs to become relevant once more. When was the last time you were stopped in your tracks by a Daily Mail front page?

Verity is a former deputy editor under Dacre; he knows how to craft a provocative splash story. He will be looking to reinsert the Daily Mail into the national conversation.

Another former colleague told me: "It’s going to get a bit ragey again."

But Verity should not be underestimated. When I worked with him he was passionate about a good story and instinctively understood the mix of the paper. Expect to see an increased focus on business stories, personal finance and sport. Unlike Dacre, he loves football (well, Leeds United).

He is unlikely to put his arm around a reporter like Greig, but his team at the Mail on Sunday loves him.

Critically, Verity knows what he wants from his reporters. News editors would complain about presenting 40 stories to Greig in conference and he would like them all; that certainly won’t be a problem under Verity.

Perhaps most importantly, he will understand the Daily Mail’s new position within DMG Media. It makes the money for now, but the future is digital.

Keith Gladdis is a senior director at MHP and former Daily Mail executive news editor

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