How to Write Like the Daily Mail


I can’t fathom why you’d want that, precisely, but if you absolutely must, here are some tips:

"Let's take an actual human being and dissect their appearance to figure out why someone who looks like Pete Davidson can bag hotties like Kim K."

Take the years 2020 and 2021 and the state of Florida but make it a newspaper.

Doom and gloom all the way! Embody all the seething rage of an ocean on fire, and the audacity of a multi-billionaire going to space on a phallic-shaped rocket while his minions, who are paid below a living wage, are trapped in a warehouse that’s on the path of a deadly tornado.

Joan Didion literally just died but she hasn’t been buried yet so you won’t have to worry about her turning in her grave. She’d probably find it all grotesquely entertaining anyway, albeit a tad overdone. After all, the heyday of the Tabloid started in the late 70’s with Joyce McKinney, peaked in the mid 90’s with Lady Diana’s death, and had a comeback in the early oughts when, for a hot and sweet minute, it was okay again to exploit mental health issues (Britney), addiction (Lindsey), and public figures’ private life (Paris).

The rise of the Kardashians might have seemed godsend for the genre if only the Information Age didn’t to the printed press what video did to the radio star (and so much quicker and more efficiently too!) 

Your only consolation for celebrities taking back control of their own narrative via social media is that you don’t even have to follow them around anymore—just wait for them to post something on IG, copy and paste it, and run it word for word. Surely, you still need a solid budget to keep the paparazzi on your payroll because in the cutthroat world of celebrity gossip it is prudent to Catch Them All (in a Compromising Situation). Should a certain celebrity has legal protections in place to protect their kids’ privacy you still buy the photos, just blur their faces when you publish it. 

Draw inspiration from a holiday card showing a picture of a right-wing family all holding automatic weapons that was sent out immediately after a fatal school shooting. Splice Roger Stone, Ted Nugent, and Harvey Weinstein’s DNA, add a pinch of Covid and a hint of conspiracy theory, and voilà! It’s a well-tested cocktail recipe that can poison the mind of even the most skeptical reader and astral-project them directly to hell at the first taste (gagging all the while). 

Then, you get yourself a conservative attitude. I’m talking hardcore Republican/Tory/Old Boys Club type of conservative that, if it leans another inch to the right, it’d fall straight off the edge of the earth. Veil this attitude very thinly by way of virtue signaling, and boast about deserving a cookie for not misgendering trans people. 

The trick is to leave your options open so you can also double-dip in the liberal pond when it’s convenient. Strategically use buzzword terms like “cancel culture”, “woke”, and “body positivity”. 

Whatever the news, always approach it from the perspective of an Advocate for the Devil. Just fit in all the whataboutism, insinuation, victim blaming, fear mongering, and innuendo you possibly can. You are not a media mogul but a mud-slinging political demagogue who thinks about himself as an Agent Provocateur (you gotta be a man, for everyone knows women can’t be moguls.)

The playbook says: provoke reaction at any cost, preferably that of shock. Also, make sure you insult people. Like, in their face. The meaner, the better, and it absolutely has to be petty. When someone takes offense, ridicule them and call them “snowflakes”.

Character assassination is your main goal, and you must run rapid and brutal smear campaigns that stop just barely short of perjury and slander. Create an environment so toxic you’d need a gas mask to read that shit. Be outrageous and vapid, and remember: opinions matter just as much as facts, if not more.

If you don’t know the facts, speculate and eventually something will stick. 

Employ ill-reputed, reprehensible humans and market them as “controversial” and “edgy” pundits. Task them with analyzing the words and actions of acclaimed public figures and encourage them to the cross ALL THE LINES. Knowing damn well that they would be out of their depth in a mud puddle, have trivial individuals such as Piers Morgan and Ann Coulter challenge the expertise of literal scientist and spew half-witted crap with abandon. Where your argument logic is lacking, affront is a sure-fire substitute.

The essential thing you need is LORGE HEADLINES. It has to wreak panic, no matter if the news doesn’t really warrant it. Scandal sells, and if there’s no scandal make it up.

Speaking of headlines, write super l o n g and incoherent ones. Put the entire story in the headline, then just repeat the story ad nauseam in the actual article below. The verbs need to be in ALL CAPS.

Always include the age of people, especially of women. Refer to women as “someone’s ex”. Pit women against each other. Rank them by appearance. Publish unflattering photos of them, or side-by-sides captioned Before and After. 

Label every other article as Exclusive or Breaking News, and heavily utilize clickbait.

Never spellcheck. Rush to print or post online first, then edit. It’s easier to issue a correction than to miss an opportunity to beat the competition to the punch. Of course, you don’t really have a competition because your rag is in a league of its own (right next to the National ENQUIRER and the Unabomber Manifesto-adjacent.)

Moving on to content. Well, that’s easy: take journalist ethics and promptly throw it in the trash. Then dig through that trash and print whatever you happen to pull out! Anything goes.

No, seriously. Virtually anything goes. Simply mention two major news and then fill the rest of the space with articles about totally nonsensical stuff. An optical illusion (?!). A viral TikTok video. A random blast from the past you found who knows where in the pits of the Internet. Derive (plagiarize) ideas from listicle websites like Bored Panda or popular Reddit threads.

Visually, it has to be busy. Fuck graphic design. Your aesthetic should scream. That’s it. That’s the aesthetic: high-pitched demonic screeching.

These aren’t informative pieces or award-wining editorials, but the equivalent of a conversation at a dive bar full of bros at 1 am on a Tuesday, or alternatively, a family reunion where no one likes each other and the creepy uncle is now drunk enough to start making comments about how much the daughter has grown.

Echo every single cultural cliché, stereotype, and myth out there: people will eat it up because they only use ten percent of their brains! 

Your target demographic is anyone and everyone. You may be classist but you don’t discriminate by aiming at an audience of certain interests, tastes, or (god forbid) education levels—that’d significantly narrow your readership.

Be patronizing and sanctimonious, and treat your readers like they are either easily manipulated small children or just very, very stupid. Look for the lowest common denominator, then dig lower still.

You’d know you’ve reached the perfect depth when you hear the shovel hit rock bottom. 

Plus, you need a wide audience for those ads. Ensure the ads play automatically and expand over the entire screen as you scroll; make the X symbol minuscule so people would miss and instead of closing it they’d get redirected to some seedy online store. Mix in Promoted Content with the celebrity gossip. 

Now split the page vertically. Place politics to the left and entertainment in the right margin. Staple topics include:

The Royal Wars: the Palace vs Meghan Markle, Covid-19, The Crisis of the Day—e.g. supply chain issues, North Korea, Putin. 

Crime is a low hanging fruit. Violent crime is everywhere and it’s timeless, really. Glorify serial killers like they are some sort of rock stars. Don’t shy away from gore. Appeal to the basest of instincts: disgust, terror, envy, lust… You can’t go wrong with those. Even the finest of us gawk at car crashes on the freeway.

And don’t forget the graphic images!

Obsess over places like San Francisco and New York, and insist that homelessness is ruining those beautiful cities. Elaborate further by featuring a piece about the “next boom towns” complete with map and graph visuals, and data obscurely sourced from something you overheard while passing by a Trump convention. 

Use the well-tested tagline formula and begin your pieces with “The Incredible/Terrifying Moment”. Alternatively, use “A Heartwarming Moment” when reporting about a lost dog being reunited with its owner after a natural disaster, then immediately follow up with an animal cruelty case to keep the tension up.

Take a problematic story of a nurse who’s forced to moonlight as a waitress to pay her bills and put a boomer spin on it about how meritocracy is still very much at the heart of the American Dream.

Invent a problem that doesn’t exist, such as what aspect of the economy millennials are currently killing—perhaps they are creating a labor shortage by refusing to accept jobs that don’t pay living wages because they are rejecting the idea that they should take pride in their own oppression. Paint them as lazy freeloaders and lament about the good old capitalist days when it was possible for a blue collar worker to buy a home at the age of 25, but don’t factor in inflation, omit the fact that the wealth gap is now a freaking chasm, and ignore systemic inequality and inequity altogether. 

Then, the unsavory classic: a female teacher arrested for having sex with a student. Judging by the frequency of those articles (once a week on average) your readers would conclude that this sort of thing is not rare and random but a downright epidemic. Never, ever report on accusations of sexual abuse by young women made against male public figures—it can damage their reputation!

Be unapologetically fatphobic. Don’t succumb to pressure to retire terms such as “obese”, just put “formerly” in front of it. Publish workout and diet tips from a famous so-and-so’s trainer (‘s cousin’s neighbor) and lie through your teeth about how we all can achieve celebrity looks even though we lack nearly unlimited financial freedom or the same 24 hours in a day as someone who jets around in private planes and has numerous staff at their disposal, including personal chefs and fitness instructors.  

Write about disability and mental illness as if it is a spectacle:

A Woman in Love With a tree, LOL! A Child With a Man-sized Tumor, ew. Look, the Curious Case of the Man Who Eats Nothing But Fries.

Forage foreign media for unusual medical conditions from countries where healthcare is in crisis and expose them to the world for the sole purpose of perpetuating ableism.

Familiarity breeds contempt! If your readers are sick of hearing about the same people you revamp their image by coming up with catchy pet names:

“Sleepy Joe” Biden, “Green Teen” Greta Thunberg, or simply preface your subjects with a descriptive adjective: “Hot niece”, “Tragic actor”, “Disgraced Comedian”. 

Language is important. Be consistent with your verb use. Create an illusion of newsworthiness by describing insignificant events as follows:

One never “wears” an outfit. They always “sport” and “flaunt” it. 

They “wow” in a dress and “ooze” sex appeal, especially if the celebrity in question isn’t in fact trying to look attractive at all because they are photographed coming out of the dentist’s.

Overly sexualizing young women is a must. They “cut a figure”, “show off their assets” and “put on a leggy display”.

If it’s a famous couple they are usually “packing on the PDA”, or one is “lovingly looking on” while the other is doing a thing.

Celebrities do little else but “stepping out” of some place or “stepping into” some piece of clothing, and normally it is a “plunging” top that “makes a splash”. 

“Going braless” is breaking news. Don’t miss a chance to turn one’s otherwise generic Instagram caption into “gushing” and “teasing”. Routine social media posts become “giving fans a cheeky peak”.

Objectify the human body to the point of creating a caricature out of any given person you are writing about, and be ruthless in your scrutiny. If a famous person is pictured single, ask why aren’t they married yet. If they are a mother, pose the question who is taking care of her kids while she is traveling for work. Keep ‘em on their toes.

Protect your sources (that you made up yourself) by quoting “experts” and “close insiders” who “reveal” rumors about cheating or a pending divorce, then claim your support for the “distressed” celebrity by featuring photos from their career’s best moments.

Wrap it all up with Sports and the Weather, then rinse and repeat.

Or, just don’t do any of that malignant stuff, stop being a part of the problem, and engage in quiet retrospection to figure out why do you feel it is okay in the year of 2022 to commodify tragedy and adversity in order to profit from it.

"We can be misogynist AND pander to the Palace in the same breath!"

"Daunte Wright deserved to be killed by cops, basically."


Greatest Hits