Four of the five ‘most read’ news stories on Telegraph website are about Cecil the lion

Did the paper's £8 million digital investment go on magic beans?


The morbid symptoms of decline in the Daily Telegraph can be detected in a number of ways. Here, for example, are the top ten most read stories on the paper’s website at time of writing:

1. Cecil the lion’s killer revealed as American dentist

2. ‘Impossible’ rocket drive works and could get to Moon in four hours

3. Cecil the lion’s final photograph

4. Chelsea vs Barcelona: as it happened

5. Cecil the lion: petition for ‘justice’ reaches 130,000 signatures

6. Cecil the lion’s killer in hiding as angry response spreads to Minnesota hometown

7. Prince George’s birthday present revealed

8. Peer claims £300 a day in expenses to walk 200 yards to work at House of Lords

9. Windows 10 launch: Microsoft releases new operating system

10. Jeremy Warner: The UK is living off borrowed time – and money

You’ll notice four of the ten are about the same (not very important) story. This includes two older pieces on the subject and one which is simply a picture.

Of the news stories, four out of five are about Cecil (RIP).

Telegraph Cecil Lion 29 7 15

For a newspaper which recently spent £8 million on its digital services, could it not find a way to group all stories with the keyword ‘Cecil’ or ‘lion’ together? Most newspaper websites do this or something similar to save the ‘most read’ list from repeating the same story multiple times.

The story is also part of a growing trend on the paper’s website, towards picture-based stories about animals.

Even the rest of the top ten list is not encouraging: royal toddler, football, space and Microsoft, redeemed only from this Metro-like line-up by a comment piece and a story about Peers’ expenses.

It seems unlikely the readers avidly clicking on Cecil the lion stories are the same who buy the paper’s print edition, and have done for years.

Reading the website, you have to wonder where the £8 million is going, and whether the clickbait model is the Telegraph’s last best hope, or a poisoned chalice.

Adam Barnett is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward. Follow MediaWatch on Twitter

Read more:

Times admits ‘scandal of NHS end-of-life care’ story was incorrect and misleading

Hard-left plot to elect Corbyn Labour leader? Sunday Times’s numbers don’t add up

Sign up for our weekly email by clicking here.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.