Fraser Nelson

Where the Mail’s cover story came from

Where the Mail's cover story came from
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It's always gratifying to see Coffee House posts followed up in the newspapers, and I almost admire the way the Daily Mail has just splashed the newspaper on one of our posts without mentioning the source.

CoffeeHousers will recognise the story on the Mail's front page (left) - some 99 percent of jobs created since 1997 are accounted for by immigration. But the reader is left wondering where this figure came from. Was it released by the ONS? Erm, no. The only source for these figures is an email I was kindly sent by the ONS after specifically requesting the data. I used it in a line from The Spectator's editorial endorsement of the Conservatives, which we flagged up in a CoffeeHouse post at 11am yesterday.

The Tories spotted it, and Damian Green raised it in PMQs at 12.28pm. The sharp-eyed James Chapman saw it too, and wrote it up. I Tweeted it (new habit) at 5pm. And the Mail splashes it now. So why no attribution? Because this is the way Fleet St works. Kelvin MacKenzie, who was round at The Spectator for a post-debate supper last night, used to call this the "scamulator" - you'd copy somebody else's story, but rewrite it in a way where you didn't lift any direct sentence. Then slap "exclusive" on the top for good measure." The Daily Mail once rewrote a Spectator cover story about Labour's Soviet links - lifting quotes and everything - and had the cheek to label it an "investigation". But this is the way the British media works - and it is, I suppose, the sincerest form of flattery.

But the point remains: Coffee House will give you facts, figures, analysis and detail which newspapers don't. Blogs have a good chance of staying a news cycle ahead of the newspapers in the campaign. Weirdly, we don't have to spin as much as newspapers do: we have the space to do graphs, tables, we give you the metrics so our readers can judge, and make up your own minds. Being able to hand primary sources over to readers, as I did with the immigration post, is a significant leap forward in journalism - and we, in Coffee House, are keen to serve it all up fresh.

Moral of the story: to get things first in this election campaign, come to Coffee House.

UPDATE: An online analysis by the Daily Mail has just been posted - with full source attribution.