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Daily Mail - The On Mumsnet This Week Column - part 374, appendix 5

(602 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 06-Sep-09 12:20:32

Goodday Mumsnetters,
Now I know we said we'd abide by the results of the poll and the poll's not quite due to close yet, so first off we hope you'll forgive us for bringing this matter to an early conclusion.

We've thought about this a bit more (thanks to everyone for their considered input - it's been generally helpful to us though not always fun) and we've decided to ask the DM not to run this column under any circumstances.

We've said all along that we were torn by the column. When push came to shove we thought, on balance, we would prefer though it to exist rather than not, assuming we had editorial control (explanation why later on). But NOT if the majority of Mumsnetters were strongly against it running.

I don't think the poll shows that the majority of MN is actually against it, as it happens - I know there's some debate here - I think it shows 43% are. But I think the whole process has shown that those who are against are very very strongly against whilst those who don't mind the column in one form or another don't feel particularly strongly about it (save perhaps Daftpunk wink). The 43% odd would never be happy with the column running and I think that therefore it would cause ongoing acrimony, which is of course not what we're about.

What we are about is making parents' lives easier and we don't exclude DM readers from that. MN is open to all.

However, a weekly column could and has been interpreted as a brand alignment - and it's not really as some have pointed out the right fit for us - which is why we wouldn't have sought it in the first instance.

For anyone who's been upset by/ caught in the crossfire of this debate - MP in particular and indeed, Leah Hardy - I apologise. A Mumsnetter has just written to me to say the following (she agreed that I could quote her here):

"I feel the flames of crises are fuelled by MNHQ's over willingness to collaborate. Offering Mumsnetters an opportunity to help steer, but knowing they all want to go in different directions is always going
to be carnage. They can never be of one voice. That's what makes Mumsnet interesting and wonderful, isn't it?"

I think on reflection this is spot on - we have always tried to be as inclusive as possible here at MNHQ. Our answer to most dilemmas is usually "Let's see what the Mnetters think". But on polarising issues like this one this is perhaps a mistake. It all becomes a bit too Lord of the Fliesish, and innocent folk get caught in the crossfire.

A final thought about the nature of MN and how we go about making it viable. Much bigger beasts than us are trying to work out how they can make their websites work in terms of paying the bills. Many are mooting charging in some way for access. Mumsnet is free and we probably turn down as much advertising as we take. We do our best to operate as ethically and communally as possible but we have costs that are rising as we grow - servers, people, offices etc - and it's a balancing act.

Mumsnet is big and successful in many ways but it does not generate huge amounts of revenue and profit. We don't have and can't afford a big PR machine - it's me!

But we want to do tonnes of things - run campaigns like our miscarriage one that could benefit lots of folk, improve the site with new features, spread the word so more can have access to the good advice available here. To do that we need to get out there a bit and we need to generate some revenue.

Being in the Daily Mail every week was obviously one way of getting out there - but not perhaps, as many of you have argued, the right way.

So we'll ask them to stop and keep you posted.

Have a lovely rest of weekend.


gigglewitch Sun 06-Sep-09 12:25:02

spot on. Glad you have reached a decision which is clear cut, and ultimately is putting an end to the debate and uncertainty.
pmsl at the thread title, btw grin

justabouteatingchocolate Sun 06-Sep-09 12:27:11

Message withdrawn

Wonderstuff Sun 06-Sep-09 12:29:50

A good decision I think. The debate has been interesting. I wonder how MN could become more profitable? I wonder if any of the printed press offer the right 'brand' alignment?? I do love MN for its ethical stance.

bibbitybobbityhat Sun 06-Sep-09 12:30:47

Oh I'm very glad you came to that conclusion. Its a shame the poll couldn't run its course - but I don't blame you for wanting to have a more relaxing Sunday! smile.

Jux Sun 06-Sep-09 12:35:51

Haven't followed the debate particularly as I'm one of the ones who is pretty indifferent to the column; if anyone I know reads the DM then I probably don't know them well enough to care - not that I'm likely to ever be quoted anyway.

I'm glad a conclusion has been arrived at - good on you all.

As for revenue, of course you have to generate enough, but I'm not worried about extra/better features on MN, if that's any help. smile

Tee2072 Sun 06-Sep-09 12:37:22

The best piece of advice I was ever given was this:

'You are in charge. This means, you need to make a decision. Right or wrong, just make a decision. You can be wrong, but never be indecisive.'

Its nice to see MN making such a certain decision.

(Of course it helps that I think its the right one. grin)

noddyholder Sun 06-Sep-09 12:47:58

grin That is great!

nannynick Sun 06-Sep-09 12:52:58

"a weekly column could and has been interpreted as a brand alignment" - I agree with that. Mumsnet needs to remain independent so that it can become the voice of the nation with regard to parenting issues.

New Media is where the Government should be looking to get a feel for the general publics reactions to their schemes. The Government should be asking us what we feel they should do to help get the nation back on track, not relying on National Newspapers who have political allegiance (is that the right word?).

Mumsnetters come from a variety of backgrounds, variety of political persuasions, variety of ethnic groups etc. We are a mixed bunch of individuals. We make an ideal test-bed for new Government policy, new product testing (some companies are already doing that) and general research into the parenting, educational, childcare, disabilities, and various other markets/sectors.

Mumsnetters have a variety of occupations - some I suspect will work in PR... so if Mumsnet needs help with PR - perhaps there are some mumsnetters who could help with ideas, contacts etc.

RudolphHucker Sun 06-Sep-09 12:54:00


Top show.

RudolphHucker Sun 06-Sep-09 12:55:09

And <applause> to FlamesOfCrisis mner, whoever she may be.

LilyBolero Sun 06-Sep-09 12:59:53

Thank you, I think that is the right decision!

AitchwonderswhoFruitCrumbleis Sun 06-Sep-09 13:00:43

i hope that you're happy with that decision, Justine. for the record i have no objection to a column with a better 'fit' elsewhere, Mrs PR Machine wink so if i was you i'd be contacting the Indy and what have you as at least the existence of a reg piece elsewhere would disincline the NOTW etc shock from doing one.

this whole thing has brought up some really interesting issues about fair use and the public-ness of the internet, i think... it can sometimes feel as if we're just chatting with our mates on here. so now let's talk about the archives and editing. grin

LoveBeingAMummy Sun 06-Sep-09 13:08:50

Thanks for the update Justine. I think now that a decision has been made everyone will feel better, whatever the outcome.

Pielight Sun 06-Sep-09 13:09:39

Oh well done. I think the MNer who wrote to you is right, it was sort of what I was trying to say, less succinctly on the previous thread - your call, and it was good of you to try and test the waters as well.

Think the point of revenue is interesting - not just for MN but for everybody. At some point it may well be that people will need to start paying - not just here but for newspapers etc. Is all v. interesting.

Sorry it put everyone though the mill.

CristinaTheAstonishing Sun 06-Sep-09 13:23:45

Well done and good luck.

margotfonteyn Sun 06-Sep-09 13:25:55


said Sun 06-Sep-09 13:32:18

Good decision MN

policywonk Sun 06-Sep-09 13:54:17

I think that's absolutely the right decision Justine - the people who objected, really objected.

I think we (MNHQ and MN posters) are participating in a giant social experiment here, one that reflects the huge social changes prompted by the web. I think we're all feeling our way, and sometimes the correct course only becomes apparent after 6000 posts and several hundred vicious personal attacks wink

HelenaBonhamCarter Sun 06-Sep-09 14:02:24

Well done HQ smile

Tbh I think the mail are cheeky thinking they could align themselves with us!

StripeySuit Sun 06-Sep-09 14:03:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

onebatmother Sun 06-Sep-09 14:05:57

What pw said
Good news

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 06-Sep-09 14:08:19

I am very happy about this as I really do not want my personal circumstances in the DM and the columns that have been published so far have been rubbish imho. They have not caught the sparkle of MN at all.

DesperateHousewifeToo Sun 06-Sep-09 14:15:05

Exactly what I was thinking, Fab.

Good decision. Thankyou Justine

PrincessToadstool Sun 06-Sep-09 14:24:16

Good decision - but agree with aitch, re editing/archives. Other sites allow editing and deletion with no major impact to the integrity of the archive. I can think of two I use that don't seem to suffer from it.

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