The ingenuity of The Daily Mash
June 13, 2011
I love The Daily Mash.
The wonderfully satirical website was kicked off in 2007 by Neil Rafferty, a former political correspondent for The Sunday Times, and Paul Stokes, former business editor of The Scotsman. As former journalists, they clearly have a good grasp of the inherent absurdities in much of what their former comrades churn out – and the capacity to subvert it on a daily basis.
It’s a lucrative business – two-thirds of their readers earn over £30k, a great statistic for attracting advertisers. Rafferty and Stokes clearly know their audience well. They know how they think, and what appeals to them.
For example, this article on the possibility of lower-ranking universities closing is right on the money. The title, “Closing bad universities could exclude people who did nothing at school” is an adequate summary of what many people who went to higher-ranking universities secretly think. Secretly, and sometimes overtly. We’ve all had those conversations.
It’s almost as though it’s actually targeted at a particular set of opinions held by a well-off demographic, and serves to confirm those opinions while secretly laughing at everyone else. The analogy would be the Daily Mail, which is again set up to confirm the opinions of a particular demographic by expressing horror at the antics of everyone else.
The founders are journalists. Journalists don’t report the truth any more, that’s what agency reporters are for. Instead, journalists shape the truth into something so tasty you’ll want to gobble it up and come back for more of their news hors d’oeuvres. It just so happens that the tastiest form of news for a particular demographic, amongst whose ranks I count myself, is humour. This very particular market covers the increasingly successful The Daily Show, and – I suppose – 10 o’clock Live.
It’s a bit worrying when a significant number of people actively seek out opportunities to view the world through some sort of ironic detachment, as though everything outwith their immediate circle is some sort of silly mistake and will be sorted out as soon as right-thinking people get onto it. On the other hand, it is very funny.