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Are the Wheels Falling Off ‘The Daily Mail’?

Are the Wheels Falling Off ‘The Daily Mail’?

As guests sipped from The Daily Mail-branded coconut drinks in the courtyard of the Hotel Martinez at the annual Cannes Lion advertising gabfest in the south of France last week, the New York newsroom of the British tabloid was suffering from a leadership crisis that has grown more dire by the day following the mysterious departure of its now former online editor-in-chief Gerard Greaves.

Greaves, an old-school Fleet Street editor who had been parachuted into the U.S. to help steady the site in 2022 following the departure of hard-charging British founding editor Martin Clarke, was last seen in the New York newsroom in late February frantically asking staff for help to delete emails off his computer. 

When he did not appear back in the newsroom following a trip to London, senior editorial leadership was advised he was on “compassionate leave” with no further explanation. By the end of last month, the Mail announced Greaves, who did not respond to multiple requests for comment, would be leaving the company after 24 years and Katie Davies, currently the U.S. editor of The Times and The Sunday Times, had been poached for the top job. Davies does not start her role until the fall. 

Since his arrival, the former deputy editor of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday had set about hiring almost exclusively Brits with American journalists routinely passed over for jobs. One senior American employee told Hot Source she was asked by Greaves to take a demotion after having a child. The employee, who left the Daily Mail after the incident, said Greaves told her that he did not like working with women who had children. 

According to the employee, who asked to remain anonymous, Greaves even asked her if she was planning on having another child and said that mothers had a hard time focusing. “It was just a mess,” the former employee told Hot Source. “It was a chaotic mess. I couldn’t believe he was in that position of power.” 

Greaves, who held a membership paid for by the Daily Mail to the exclusive Manhattan private members club, The Ned NoMad, would routinely lavishly entertain people on the company dime, according to two people familiar with the situation. “He was like a rapper with his first hit album spending money,” one former colleague told Hot Source. 

Several current and former employees who spoke with Hot Source say the leadership vacuum has allowed another Brit, Sean O’Hare, to rise in the newsroom. O’Hare, who wasted no time moving into Greaves’ glass office, assumed the role of acting editor, but his chronic absenteeism and erratic management style have only added to the toxic work environment, according to the people familiar with the situation. (O’Hare did not respond to a request for comment.)

In the Mail newsroom, posters on the wall urge staff, “If you see something speak up,” advising anyone with concerns to alert their manager or call a 24/7 independent and confidential “speak-up facility.” But the phone number listed has been disconnected, and the website does not work, according to three people familiar with the matter. 

“The Daily Mail has no comprehensive HR,” Maggie Cole, who worked at the Daily Mail from 2021-2023 as a video producer, told Hot Source. “They are not worried about the safety of their employees and ultimately that’s why I left. There’s no one to really report anything to. There’s no process. It’s very muddy.”

As Brits claim top postings in U.S. media at CNN, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, the events that have played out at the Daily Mail may serve as a cautionary tale of imports arriving from across the pond with a lack of understanding of American news, its practices or its audience.

The Daily Mail was the first British publication to take the United States by storm, quickly becoming known for its celebrity scoops, its use of splashy photos and its clickable tabloid headlines that helped it to become one of the world’s most-read websites. 

But, even before Greaves’ disappearance, the site had suffered a wave of high-profile departures including Amy Maas who had left to join, Louise Thomas who is now at the Independent, Caitlyn Becker who joined NewsNation, Sean Walsh to Bilt, Meghan McCain who left to start her own podcast company, and Lucy White who oversaw the Daily Mail’s hugely popular TikTok and left without a job to go to. 

Two delegations of senior Daily Mail leadership have been sent from London to NYC in recent months. Just weeks after Greaves’ departure the publisher and editor of the Mail Online Danny Groom and the U.K. Editorial Director, Ben Bailey, arrived to survey the damage. 

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Several staffers who spoke with Hot Source said they alerted the pair to the management issues. Before this year’s White House Correspondents dinner, the chairman of the Daily Mail and General Trust Lord Rothermere, his son and heir apparent Vere Harmsworth also visited the company’s Astor Place offices and were told about the systemic problems. 

Now, Hot Source has learned the Mail’s London HQ at Derry Street is sending yet another Brit, Nicholas Pyke, to act as its eyes and ears. But for many staffers, the damage to the brand has already been done. 

“People are truly fed up,” one recently departed staffer told Hot Source. “This place is completely fucked, and there is zero leadership coming from London, and they have destroyed the potential we had here in the United States.” 

A spokesperson for the Daily Mail declined to comment.

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