It's all change at Mail towers. In shock news on Fleet Street, Geordie Greig, the well-connected editor of the Daily Mail since 2018, is to step down from his current post at the end of this week. Ted Verity, the current editor of the Mail on Sunday, will instead be Editor of Mail newspapers, a position that will include overall responsibility for both the Sunday and daily papers and You magazine. In an email sent out on behalf of the paper's chairman Lord Rothermere, staff were told that since the Mail's foundation 125 years ago:
“The paper has never shown fear, nor sought favour, in pursuit of its founding ideals to inform, entertain and fight for its readership and the people of this great country. Times change and the Daily Mail has always embraced change and emerged stronger. It is now time for us to make another such change and create a modern digital/print media company fully-equipped to embrace the vast opportunities for the high-quality journalism that this company is dedicated to producing...The secret of the Daily Mail's success has always been my family's passion for investing in the brilliant journalism that's helped our titles forge a unique bond with readers.
Rothermere notes that 'Ted is a Mail journalist to his core and uniquely placed to oversee the next chapter for our newspapers' while Greig is lauded as 'a remarkable editor' who will now become 'Consultant Editor.' For years there have been rumours of a merger between the two papers, with the Mail on Sunday the last Sunday-only newsroom operating on Fleet Street. While hacks there are now fearing their future, Verity is described as being in an 'extremely chirpy' mood. Journalists at both papers are shocked by the news, with one saying: 'This has landed like a bolt from the blue. Everyone is astonished.' Another added: 'None of the backbench or the news desk knew. Literally everybody is blindsided by it.' Verity's deputy Dave Dillon will be his effective replacement on the Sunday edition in all but name, with fellow MoS man Leaf Kalfayan overseeing the Saturday edition.
Verity was a key lieutenant to Paul Dacre during the latter's long editorship of the Mail. His ascent into the Daily Mail hotseat will be seen as a final victory for Dacre's allies in the ten-year war against Greig and his backers, which began when the Old Etonian Remainer was editing the Mail on Sunday. Greig then took over at the daily in 2018, mollifying the paper's stance on Brexit and backing Theresa May's deal. He also brought with him several key lieutenants such as Gerard Greaves in what was seen as a reversal for the Dacre-ite forces within the Mail establishment. But as one hack remarked to Mr S: 'Dacre always gets his man.'
Reading between the lines, it's clear that the shake-up will also strengthen Martin Clarke, who has served as boss of Mail Online – the world's most popular news website – since 2006 as the newspapers aim to better integrate with digital platforms. Currently the Daily Mail and Mail Online operate almost entirely separately, with the latter focusing on a younger, more global audience with much greater focus on social media and celebrities. Both have different newsrooms, with the Mail's print copy forming just a small part of the website's online offering. Verity is viewed within the company as a key Clarke ally; his promotion comes two days after the Mail’s parent company announced it would rejig its executive team to promote a key executive who worked for Clarke, at the expense of staff with a background in print newspapers.
As the Daily Mail is the UK's biggest selling newspaper (albeit with weekday sales now at 784,000, down 10pc year-on-year) such changes will likely affect the paper's coverage of the government, with Verity perceived as being more supportive of the government in recent coverage and editorials than Greig. It could also have ramification for the legal wranglings between the Mail's parent company Associated Newspapers and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex over the Mail on Sunday's decision to publish a letter from Meghan Markle to her father. Sources have told Mr S that Clarke and Verity have worked together closely on the twists and turns of the case over the past two years.
As for Rothermere's 'family passion' for newspapers, Mr S understands that the 27-year-old Vere Harmsworth – Rothermere's son and heir – is now a managing director of Mail Plus, the digital platform which the current Viscount views as his 'baby.' Good to see some plucky young talent being given a start on Fleet Street...