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Paper Monitor

11:40 UK time, Wednesday, 21 May 2008

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

Half of Daily Mail readers vote Labour, apparently. At least that's what the paper's biggest owner, Viscount Rothermere, told a House of Lords committee yesterday.

The paper itself doesn't actually report him saying it - you'll have to go to the Guardian for that titbit - but it does have a brief story about his appearance at the committee, under the headline "Our editors have total freedom says Mail chief".

Anyone have any views about whether there is tautology here? If the editors have total freedom, why is there a "chief"? Would a chief have to ask the editor to run this story and if he or she said no, how would that go down? How free is total freedom?

Rothermere was asked what he would do if one of his editors backed a legalise cannabis campaign or - even more extreme - supported the EU. He said these examples were "not extreme enough" for him to get involved.

In some ways, of course, Mail editors do not have total freedom, in spite of what the viscount says. Because the Mail is known for its laser-like targeting on the passions and interests of its audience, day after day, and it is this free spirit which is truly in charge. Hitting this spot so regularly is an ability which has made the Mail a very lucrative and successful publication.

One of the reasons so many people will be drawn to a double-page spread today headlined: "Why DO clever women fall for second-rate men?... We all know the type: she's successful, bright and, oh yes, too often has a man who humiliates her. What on earth is the attraction?" Cue picture of Carrie Bradshaw and Mr Big in clinche.

It's one of the mysteries of our culture that the Mail has made such success with its formula - particularly with its female audience - when so many of its stories seem to be critical of women.

But one can't deny that with paragraphs like the following, it is certainly interesting.

"I don't know the psychological reasons why "Wheat" women choose "Chaff" men, but I do know that I've done it myself," [a friend] says. "But maybe this is the key: terrible men can be terribly amusing. There's a fine line between humour and hurt; between what's powerfully insightful and connecting, and what's cruel and, often, stupid. Sometimes we women get mixed up while we're laughing."

These sorts of articles are not, as you know, the domain of the Magazine. Though a few of the words in that paragraph - "terrible", "terribly amusing", "fine line", "humour", "hurt", "powerfully insightful and connecting", "cruel", "often stupid", "mixed up" and above all "wheat" and "chaff" - so aptly sum up what the Magazine is about.

Now if only there was a way - say, perhaps a round-the-clock Twitter feed? - to keep up with the Magazine's thoughts on all these matters?

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