Martin Clarke, the editor of MailOnline, has announced he is leaving the website amid ongoing turmoil at the top of parent company DMG Media.
The journalist will step down after 13 years in charge of the outlet, having built it into one of the world’s biggest news websites. He took a small site that republished content from the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday print newspapers and turned it into an aggressive global tabloid with an enormous audience attracted by tales of celebrity and scandal.
News of his departure shocked staff at MailOnline, who only two weeks ago assumed that Clarke had emerged as one of the victors in an internal power struggle. The last month has seen the promotion of Clarke’s right-hand-man, Richard Caccappolo, to the position of chief executive of the wider media business, the departure of Daily Mail editor Geordie Greig, and the return of former Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre in an advisory role.
Clarke said he will stand down at the end of February and help to recruit his successor but “remain available to the company until the end of 2022”, meaning he is unable to join another publisher until that time.
There have been persistent rumours that Clarke had been approached by Rupert Murdoch to join his News UK outfit but multiple industry sources denied this is on the cards, with some insisting Clarke does not have another job lined up.
In a statement Clarke said he had told the group’s controlling shareholder, Lord Rothermere, earlier this year that he wanted to leave “to pursue new challenges”.
“This has been a once-in-a-lifetime ride and there is simply no other job with DMG Media I would rather have,” he said.
Clarke is known within the MailOnline office as a workaholic with a sharp temper. Even staff who respected his eye for a tabloid news story describe how he regularly shouted at staff. Many other employees who felt unable to keep up with the demands for a rapid turnaround of stories ended up leaving the outlet.
His departure comes just over a fortnight after changes at the Daily Mail appeared to point towards closer cooperation between the daily newspaper, its Sunday sister paper and the website – with individuals on the print operation convinced that Clarke would soon be overseeing them.
Greig left in mid-November after three years in charge and was replaced by the Mail on Sunday editor Ted Verity, seen as an ally of Clarke.
Just five days later Dacre, Grieg’s predecessor, was reappointed as editor-in-chief of DMG Media, three weeks after he had left a similar role. Clarke was seen as being in a similar mould to Dacre, and therefore his role, and that of MailOnline, appeared to be strengthened.
To add to the chaos, the company this week lost a high-profile legal case against Meghan, Duchess of Sussex at the same time that the Rothermere family is battling financial institutions in a bid to delist the business from the stock market and return it to private ownership.
In response to Clarke’s exit, Rothermere said: “I have had to reluctantly accept Martin’s resignation as he is without doubt one of the greatest editors of his generation; and I am eternally grateful to him for all his immense hard work and genius over the years.
“The Daily Mail is great because of the hard work of many, not just the few. Martin leaves behind him a legacy of an impressive number of highly talented and committed people across the company who will continue to build upon what he has created and keep the Daily Mail a huge success across the globe.”