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With Editor Geordie Greig’s departure, the Daily Mail needs to become relevant once more

Keith Gladdis

Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig has been ousted after just three years at the helm. MHP Mischief Senior Director and former Daily Mail executive news editor Keith Gladdis looks at what Geordie’s departure means for the UK’s biggest national newspaper.

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.

‘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 title meaning an inevitable merger of the newsroom into a seven day operation.

Martin Clarke, the power behind MailOnline 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 MailOnline. 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 MailOnline 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.

Mail Plus, the paid for online version of the newspaper is impressive but subscriber numbers remain modest.

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 of 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 love 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 Verity will understand the Daily Mail’s new position within DMG Media. It makes the money for now but the future is digital.

The editorial shake up follows a re-organisation of the executive team on the 6th floor of Northcliffe House that sees Clarke in the ascendency with MailOnline chief operating officer Richard Caccappolo replacing Kevin Beatty as chief executive.

Rothermere is also looking to increase his control by taking DMGT private after almost a century on the stock market. A takeover plan has been agreed which values the company at £850m. Shareholders have until December 16 to approve the deal.