Hello all, So am back in Blighty and have caught up on everything posted and all the ongoing correspondence with the DM that's gone on while I've been away. (Sorry very poor communications on hols so haven't really been in the loop but Carrie and team have filled me in now.) Thanks all for the input as ever.
There are a few things you've raised that we need to address and clarify. So, as ever, apologies in advance for the long post.
The first I think is MNHQ's attitude towards this column and why we didn't try and put a stop to it earlier, i.e. the moment we found out about it. (Recap for those who may have missed: we didn't know in advance that it was going to happen, the first we knew about it was when we saw the first column being discussed on MN and initially we didn't think we had any legal grounds to contest the DM's use of MN quotes. We subsequently established some time after column 2 that the DM is, in fact, most likely infringing MN copyright).
As I said early on, a weekly column in the DM is not something we'd have sought. We share many Mumsnetters' misgivings about the views and general tone of the paper - particularly it's attitudes towards working women, immigrants etc. And as I've also said we've as yet detected no noticeable increase in visitors on Thursdays when the column is published (or on any other days for that matter). Nor is it a column that fills us with pride because it adequately represents the joy and wonder that is Mumsnet. So why - as some have understandably wondered - are we not banging our fists about stopping the darned thing and have we not fired off a barrage of legal threats? Why instead do we at HQ seem a bit ambivalent about whether the column exists or not?
The main answer is this. Like it or not, the Daily Mail is a very influential beast, probably one of the most politically influential institutions in the UK. So, irrespective of the content of these columns, the very fact that the Daily Mail have decided that Mumsnet is prominent and interesting enough to base a weekly column around increases our clout. Clout when it comes to asking government ministers to consider things like our miscarriage campaign, clout when we try to persuade Gok Wan's PR that he ought to pay us a visit, or when the Tories are thinking about environment policy or what they're going to do to increase breastfeeding rates.
We also have a distinct reluctance to "go legal" with anyone after our experience of GF going legal with us - the legal system and lawyers (particularly opposing lawyers) have a way of eating up all your resources, not to mention your will to live. And call us lily-livered if you like, we'd rather not be at the top the DM's hit list if there's a way of avoiding it.
Plus, from the correspondence Carrie's had with the mail in the last couple of weeks, it's clear that they would are prepared to take steps to minimise the privacy risks.
That said, we accept many of the reservations argued well here and in previous threads about the imperfect nature of the association.
In short, those of you who've accused us of residing on the fence are probably right - we are a bit and tbh it's not very comfortable! So where next?
We think perhaps it would be best both to help us get off the fence and, if it comes to it, to lay the column to rest, to put the matter to the vote. We recognise that it's not a perfect solution but there have been a number of objections raised about this and we'd like to see exactly what it is that folks are objecting to - MN in the Daily Mail per se. MN in the Daily Mail without MN control over content. MN in the Daily Mail in its current guise/format - for example would it be OK if it were it a funny weekly column written by someone like MorningPaper (they'd never have she's far too rude of course)? Or perhaps you don't object at all (and you have an aversion to posting on this thread ).
Hopefully they'll be a clear conclusion and we promise to abide by it and to do our darnedest to put it into action as quickly as possible.
We're sorry this has dragged on a bit - it is a bit tricky to conduct this type of negotiation in public, particularly when there's a whiff of the legals about - and as we all know (if we didn't already) MN is a very public board, open for all to see and easily searchable etc. At some points we do sometimes have to just hope that you trust that we are not the bad guys who are trying to manipulate, exploit and mislead you all for our own ends (many thanks to those who have said as much). If you think that we are then there's nowt much we can say I suspect to ever sway you otherwise - but you're welcome on MN all the same because it's not really about us, after all.
It also doesn't help that it all kicked off in holiday season which is how it always is (GF the same) - sod's law and all that. Anyway humble apologies for not being a bit more accessible/on the ball in the last few weeks. We are almost all back at full strength now and generally at your disposal .
So here's our very quick poll - please fill it in (just the once please). It won't gain you entry in any competitions to win a family holiday outside of school holidays but it will most certainly influence what we do next.
Isn't it because the Daily mail have lifted a whole column without going through the usual media channels and asking permission where other papers have saught permission?
I think people are a bit pissed off that the column was written by a mumsnetter and she attributed some of the quotes to the wrong person and also last week she used a really old thread which went against what they agreed to do.
We don't know what the DM will or won't be happy to do but we thought we should find out what Mumsnetters want before going to them. If they won't do it the way we want it done then clearly the next step would be to say we don't want it run at all.
I'm in the 'don't give a monkeys' camp, though what I really mean is: I don't want MNHQ to have to get embroiled in a legal battle with a very big and powerful opponent over something that is not really that big a deal. Given that the column seems to be mainly concentrating on what is (in a newspaper) Polly Filla stuff like what to put in a packed lunch rather than the domestic violence threads, it will probably disappear fairly soon anyway.
Though I personally think it would be far funnier if the Mail was obliged to print out things like the Zombie Plan threads...
As the DM has a MN column, I would quite like to see MN columns in other papers and magazines, so that it is interpreted through a wider variety of editorial styles/political opinions/social attitudes and is read by a wider cross-section of people.
MN is public. Unavoidable. Don't post what you're uncomfortable for your next-door-neighbour to post. Or, if you do, namechange!
'I'm in the 'don't give a monkeys' camp, though what I really mean is: I don't want MNHQ to have to get embroiled in a legal battle with a very big and powerful opponent over something that is not really that big a deal.'
For the second time in 24 hours I find myself in total agreement with Solidbrass.
I don't think MN and the Daily Mail should be linked. I think MN is already so well-known and unique that it doesn't need the DM to increase its clout. Have confidence MN, you don't need the Daily Mail! Please don't sell out on your ideals and values.
If you do want to increase awareness of MN and the discussions here, there are so many other types of publicity you could try, before a regular newspaper column. And although I don't think a MN newspaper column is a good idea, if you want to do this then there are so many other newspapers (or magazines) which could be more suitable than the DM. Why should the DM have first call on this just because they did it without asking?
For some, a DM column could work the other way (reduce MN's 'clout'). If I wasn't already here at MN I would be put off joining this site, if I thought it was allied in some way to the Daily Mail. Likewise, people in positions to change things who are not fans of the Daily Mail may take less notice of MN if you appear to be endorsing the DM.
If you write to the DM and tell them they are breaching your copyright and are thinking of taking legal action, they may decide to take the column no further. However, if it comes to legal action then I think it would be worth it to protect MN in the long term. If you are clearly in the right then isn't it less likely to be difficult or expensive?
Please don't let the DM bully you. MN is worth so much more.
I've voted for the MN editorially controlled column because I don't want MN to have to get into a very expensive, protracted legal battle with the DM. I am very uncomfortable with MN having any links to the DM because it's a hate-filled rag.
However, if I were to win the Euro lottery anytime soon I'd personally fund the legal campaign to drag that sorry excuse for a newspaper through every court in the land.
I have a real problem with the Daily Mail as I find it poorly researched, ignorant, inflammatory, often inaccurate (with no attempts at apologies or effective corrections afterwards), scare-mongering and judgemental. In other words, the direct opposite of Mumsnet! That's why I would much prefer Mumsnet not to be linked to the DM.
I also don't think it has as much political clout nowadays as it did perhaps 5 years or so ago - although this is just my perception.
But people buy it/read it as they do The Sun in even bigger numbers. We can ignore them or we can try and educate. I don't like hate-filled invective either, although I don't actually read it, not even online, so maybe I don't quite get the discontent with it.