The Daily Mail is the UK’s biggest newspaper by circulation and an internationally popular online tabloid and source of information. However, many criticize the paper as inaccurate and guilty of spreading disinformation, with an often right-leaning bias. The site has also come under fire for a variety of controversies, including accusations of homophobia, racism, and sexism. So, just how reliable is the Daily Mail?

How Factual Is the Daily Mail? 

The Factual’s news rating algorithm analyzes more than 10,000 articles a day along four metrics: author expertise, publication history, writing tone, and cited sources and quotes. (See our How It Works page to learn more.) For this study, we analyzed 1,000 articles each from 245 major news sources.

Over a dataset of 1,000 articles, the Daily Mail scored an average Factual Grade of 39.7%. This is well below the average of 61.9% for all 240 news sources that we analyzed. This places the site in the 1st percentile of our dataset — it scored the third-lowest of any news source.

A range of factors contribute to these low scores. Articles generally link only to other Daily Mail articles, leading to low scores for cited evidence; headlines and text are generally heavily opinionated or sensationalized; and author expertise is low, given the wide range of new and unrecognized authors.

Like other sites, scores for articles from Daily Mail varied widely based on factors like author expertise and cited evidence. For example, some scored above 70%, while others scored far below 50%.

How Opinionated Is the Daily Mail?

The Factual measures how opinionated an article is using a sophisticated natural language processing algorithm, producing a score we call the Writing Tone. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns, unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. Text which is less opinionated gets higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

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The Daily Mail had an average Writing Tone score of 0.38, placing it in the 18th percentile in our dataset. This suggests that articles from Daily Mail are often highly opinionated. This compares to an average Writing Tone score of 0.54 for all 240 news sources. 

What Is the Daily Mail’s Political Bias? 

The Factual classifies news sites by political bias, as either Left, Moderate Left, Center, Moderate Right, or Right. This classification pulls from third-party assessments from media bias organizations such as AllSides and Media Bias/Fact Check. Based on this data, The Factual assigns Daily Mail a “Right” bias. 

AllSides, a company that tracks the bias of media organizations based on community feedback and independent research, rates Daily Mail as having a “Right” bias. For example, in a survey of 19,190 users across the political spectrum, AllSides found a slight majority of people agreed that the tabloid newspaper had a “Right” leaning bias. Those not in this majority gave Daily Mail an average rating between a “Lean Right” and “Right” bias rating. An August 2021 review by an AllSides editor found the site to be “sensationalist, tabloid bent, often choosing to highlight individual stories that elicit shock or heightened emotions.”

Meanwhile, Media Bias/Fact Check(MBFC), another media bias organization, brands Daily Mail as “Right Biased and Questionable.” MBFC claims the information utilized is poorly sourced and often hyperlinked to their own website. The site has failed numerous fact checks, generally linked to deliberate attempts to spread fake news, implying that the publication seeks to profit from hoaxes or disinformation. Some supplemental headlines MBFC provides, such as “Woman, 63, ‘becomes PREGNANT in the mouth’ with baby squid after eating calamari,” reveals the often sensationalist and emotionally loaded wording in a misleading headline. Other articles stand out as entirely unsubstantiated, such as “Did a White House Intern Make the ‘White Power’ Hand Gesture?”

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Who Owns the Daily Mail? 

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), the parent company of the Daily Mail, was founded in 1896 by Harold Sidney Harmsworth. Harmsworth's great-grandson, Lord Jonathan Harmsworth, inherited the media empire and currently serves as the chairman and controlling shareholder of DMGT. Lord Rothermere has led the business through huge technological change as print newspapers have shifted to digital platforms. In 2020, the Daily Mail overtook Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun as the UK’s best-selling newspaper.

The Daily Mail's ownership supports the UK Conservative party, and the paper prominently supports Brexit. For example, according to a Reuters article, the Daily Mail blatantly labeled judges ruling against the Brexit decision as “enemies of the people.” Such actions reveal how the site's ownership may impact the perspectives of Daily Mail articles.

Why Does It Matter? 

News articles are bound to have bias because all authors have some frame of reference within which they describe a story. Political bias ratings are helpful in understanding this framing. However, it can be more beneficial to know how factual an article is based on quantifiable metrics that can be seen across the media ecosystem, such as cited evidence, author expertise, and writing tone. This is what The Factual ascertains. 

Reading several, highly rated articles from across the political spectrum helps counter the bias of any news source or story. To have the day’s most factual news stories delivered to your inbox every morning, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

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Published by Vinay Umapathy

Vinay is a writer, director, and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. He currently works with teams as a digital media specialist and copyeditor, in addition to making short films with his friends.