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New Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig has big shoes to fill

Keith Gladdis

Following the news that Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre is to be replaced by the editor of the Mail On Sunday Geordie Greig, MHP Communications Director Keith Gladdis and former executive news editor at The Daily Mail, considers what the appointment means for the future of one of the UK’s most influential newspapers.

The appointment of Geordie Greig as the new editor of the Daily Mail reveals Paul Dacre had limited control over the manner of his departure after more than a quarter of a century in charge.

Any pretence that Dacre will be steering the ship from upstairs in his new role as chairman and editor in chief has been blown out of the water by the imminent arrival of his bitter rival at Northcliffe House.

The fact that he has been replaced by his anti Brexit rival at the Mail on Sunday leads many of his loyal staff thinking he must have been dragged to the exit door kicking and screaming.

And it has to be said the move is a gamble by DMGT chief Lord Rothermere. At a time of declining newspaper circulation the Daily Mail has held power because the metropolitan liberal elite has looked to it to learn what middle England was thinking.

Paul Dacre’s populist instinct has been proven over the decades and the Brexit referendum result was his greatest triumph.

It meant the Daily Mail was both feared and revered and its provocative front pages leading the news agenda – think Enemies of the People and Crush the Saboteurs in recent years alone.

As my former colleague Tim Shipman, now Political Editor of the Sunday Times said: ‘There isn’t a Prime Minister over the last 30 years who hasn’t been looking over their shoulder wondering what Paul Dacre thought of them.’

It is said that Lady Rothermere has been embarrassed by Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail in recent years and has been lobbying for Greig to get the job.

Will that be the same now Remainer Geordie Greig, who was once editor of society magazine Tatler and literary editor of the Sunday Times takes charge?

For many of my former colleagues at the Daily Mail the answer is no. The Daily Mail now risks losing its commercial edge, it has punched above its weight for years not because of its circulation but because of what it represents.

It is said that Lady Rothermere has been embarrassed by Paul Dacre’s Daily Mail in recent years and has been lobbying for Greig to get the job.

If that’s the case Dacre isn’t going without a fight. Today’s leader rails against Chancellor Philip Hammond demanding “Don’t let Remoaner Phil wreck Brexit”.

Come November the Chancellor (whoever that might be) won’t be quite so concerned about what the Daily Mail is thinking. And that can’t be good.

And what about the reaction in the news room?

Paul Dacre has carefully crafted a culture of fear to ensure he gets what he wants from his journalists, he believes shouting and screaming creates energy and ‘energy creates good headlines’.

Therefore, you would think that the reporters would be celebrating now the old man has decided to ‘step aside’. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Instead a new kind of fear is taking root, that the man who made the Daily Mail the most important newspaper on Fleet Street can’t be replaced.

Dacre has protected the Daily Mail from the competition of rolling television news, the internet and now social media by ensuring it sets the political agenda.

Circulation is falling and social media is doing more than taking away readers.

The ‘Stop Funding Hate’ campaign that targeted Paperchase for its promotion with the Daily Mail threatens to change the newspaper’s relationship with advertisers too.

Little wonder therefore that some Daily Mail staffers were mourning the loss of their leader. After all, Dacre himself said he wanted to be seen as “a hard bastard” but one that “leads from the front.”

Many doubt Geordie Greig can do the same.

This article first appeared in PR Week