Telegraph Media Group has underlined its investment in online ahead of the launch of its metered paywall by signing up former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie as a columnist for Telegraph.co.uk.
MacKenzie was reputed to be paid £250,000 a year for his weekly Daily Mail column.
His arrival as the Telegraph prepares to start charging subscriptions for online access (while still offering 20 articles per month free). HIs column does not appear in today's print edition.
Last month Telegraph Media Group announced plans to "complete our transition to a digital business" by axing 80 largely print-focused journalists and creating 50 new digital journalism jobs. It is also creating a new director of content position senior to the Daily and Sunday Telegraph editors.
MacKenzie abruptly left the Daily Mail after just under a year as a columnist in July 2012, telling readers: "Due to my increasing commercial workload, I have decided to give up the column after today to concentrate on my businesses. Thank you for your time over the past year."
MacKenzie caused some embarassment for Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre at the beginning of the Leveson Inquiry in October 2011, when he addressed a Leveson seminar and said: "God help me that free speech comes down to the thought process of a judge who couldn't win when prosecuting counsel against Ken Dodd for tax evasion and more recently robbing the Christmas Island veterans of a substantial pay-off for being told to simply turn away from nuclear test blasts in the Fifties."
MacKenzie was tempted back to The Sun (the paper he edited from 1981 to 1994) as a columnist by then editor Rebekah Wade in 2005, leaving to join the Daily Mail in 2011.
MacKenzie's first weekly column takes aim at teachers ("more in common with the dockers of the Sixties or the miners of the Eighties than professionals") and Masterchef's Greg Wallace ("he reminds me why I shouldn't go on WeightWatchers") – among other targets.