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 Does The Factual Rate News Sources? 

The Factual analyzes more than 10,000 news stories every day to help readers find the most informative, least-biased articles. Our news-rating algorithm scores each article along four metrics: (1) cited sources and quotes, (2) publication history, (3) writing tone, and (4) author expertise. These scores combine in a weighted average we call a Factual Grade, which ranges from 0–100%. (See our How It Works page to learn more about our algorithm.)

For this study, we analyzed ~1,000 articles each from 240 news sources. The average Factual Grade for the entire dataset was 62.5%. Based on these averages, we can compare the performance of news sites across the media ecosystem. The entire dataset can be explored in greater detail here.

How Factual Is the Daily Mail? 

The Daily Mail scored an average Factual Grade of 39.5%, the second-lowest score in our entire dataset. A range of factors contribute to this low score. In terms of cited evidence and sourcing, articles from the Daily Mail tend to link to other Daily Mail content or to low-quality external sources. Headlines and text are also generally opinionated or sensationalized. Finally, author expertise is low, likely attributable to the wide range of new and unrecognized authors, who fail to demonstrate relevant topical expertise.

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 60%, while others scored below 40%.

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How Opinionated Is the Daily Mail?

One of the metrics The Factual uses is the Writing Tone, which measures how opinionated the writing is in an article. For this metric, the algorithm looks for signs of subjective commentary (e.g., first person pronouns and unnecessary adverbs), as well as the emotional nature of selected words, and sees how prevalent they are for a given length of text. More neutral text receives higher ratings, with “0” being the most opinionated and “1” being the most neutral.

The Daily Mail had an average Writing Tone score of 0.34, placing it in the 15th percentile in our dataset for this metric. This suggests that articles from the Daily Mail are often highly opinionated. This can be seen in article titles such as “David Beckham faces backlash for gushing about Qatar in slick promo” and “Britney claims her conservatorship was SET UP.” 

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.

Article updated on September 15, 2022 to reflect new data.

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.