Daily Express editor Peter Hill has fired a broadside at the Daily Mail accusing it of holding views on women “akin to what the Taliban might think.”
Hill used a rare public interview to attack the Mail, a paper traditionally seen as the great rival to his own title, and claim his paper was more female-friendly.
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The Express editor told Press Gazette his “deeply conservative” readers were more “serious minded” and less interested in celebrity than those of the Mail before accusing his mid-market rival of having a less than progressive view of women.
He said: “I can’t understand why women would read the Daily Mail, because it clearly has a view of them which is akin to what the Taliban might think about womenâ€¦
“It thinks women ought to be in the kitchen, looking after the kids and ironing their men’s rugby gear and not going out and playing a full part in life.”
Hill’s attack against the Mail follows numerous criticisms of his own paper in recent months.
Its coverage of the friends and parents of missing toddler Madeleine McCann brought wide public outcry, cost publisher Express Newspapers in the region of £1m in libel damages and forced it into a series of front page apologies.
Last week the Advertising Standards Agency ruled against the Express for the fifth time in two months over the appearance of misleading ads in the paper.
The Express has even drawn condemnation from its own journalists who demanded last month that owner Richard Desmond either sell the newspapers or use his vast fortune to ride out the current recession, rather than axe further staff.
Hill declined what he called a “set-piece interview” with Press Gazette but defended The Express and its management against some recent criticisms.
Despite cutting around 150 fulltime and casual editorial employees over the last year, Hill insisted the only way for The Express to make economies was to “tighten” staff numbers but he said it was still perfectly capable of producing a paper “just in a tighter way.”
As part of broad editorial changes The Express has done away with most of its sub-editors and introduced a system where more stories are written directly into page templates by reporters.
Hill said: “I believe that standards of writing have vastly improved. It’s not like the old situation where reporters used to spend half the day in the pub, then get a decent story from some contact and hurriedly dictate it over the telephone to a copytaker, who might make a few mistakes in the transcription.”
Despite some Express journalists claiming the paper is under-resourced their editor believes it is on the right track.
Asked where he thought the Express now sat in the pantheon of British newspapers, Hill said: “It’s the world’s greatest newspaper. That’s what it says on the front. It must be true.”
The full interview with Peter Hill is featured in this month’s edition of Press Gazette magazine.