Mail Online sues Gawker after facing ‘hatred and ridicule’ over claim it ‘rips off’ other news websites

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Mail Online is suing website Gawker for defamation in the US over a story headlined: “My Year Ripping Off the Web with the Daily Mail Online".

The piece by James King published in March this year claimed to document his experience of working as a freelance news writer for Mail Online in New York from May 2013 to July 2014.

In it he said: “Unlike at other publications for which I've worked, writers weren't tasked with finding their own stories or calling sources.

“We were simply given stories written by other publications and essentially told to rewrite them.

“And unlike at other publications where aggregation writers are encouraged to find a unique angle or to add some information missing from an original report, the way to make a story your own at the Mail is to pass off someone else's work as your own.”

A legal claim for damages filed in New York Supreme Court claims that the article is “replete with blatant, defamatory falsehoods intended to disparage The Mail and harm its reputation”.

Mail Online (known as DailyMail.com) claims Gawker either knew the article was false “or, at the very least, recklessly disregarded the truth of those statements in order to publish a sensational article that would drive traffic to its website and thereby increase its readership and profit and to disparage a competitor in the news industry”.

It also claimed that former Mail writer King was “not a reliable, dependable, or reputable source” and said that Gawker has refused to correct or amend the article.

The writ also claims that the piece was initially offered to the Washington Post, in September 2014, but that title decided not to run with it after receiving a response from Mail Online’s legal department.

Mail Online claims that:

  • Its “reputation as an ethical, upstanding, and law-abiding company has been impugned”
  • Its “relationship with current and potential readers, investors, advertisers, and business partners have been undermined and adversely affected”
  • Confidence in the Mail's business has been undermined and The Mail has suffered a loss of goodwill
  • It “has been forced to make an expenditure of money to remedy the defamation”
  • It “has been exposed to public hatred, ridicule, and contempt”.

Mail Online said it is seeking “compensatory, punitive, and other damages in an amount to be specifically determined at trial”.

Gawker said in a statement: "While we’re not surprised that the Daily Mail doesn’t like what James King had to say about his time working there, this baseless complaint doesn’t even attempt to refute the vast majority of the author’s detailed anecdotes about his experience as a Daily Mail writer."

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