Mail Online, with its parade of celebrities in their bathing suits, gained six million viewers between December and January alone. American traffic was up sixty-two per cent last year. Its home page has become furtively prevalent in Manhattan cubicles. In January, when Mail Online surpassed the Times, a spokeswoman for the latter said, “A quick review of our site versus the Daily Mail should indicate quite clearly that they are not in our competitive set.” The Mail’s contention is that American newspapers have become too effete to prosper. Its ambitions transcend Pulitzers. “They’re not in our competitive set, to be honest,” Martin Clarke, the editor of Mail Online, said when I asked him about the Times. “I did think they were spectacularly sore losers, but I could not care less if we overtake the Times. What matters to me is: Are we bigger than MSN? Are we bigger than Yahoo?”
Basically, The Mail doesn’t think in terms of other newspapers, but in terms of itself, which has worked to its benefit.