Media Moves

More Executive Churn at the Daily Mail as Lord Rothermere Eyes a Telegraph Bid

Global chief brand officer Sean Walsh is exiting the UK tabloid juggernaut, the latest in a game of high-level musical chairs.
Lord Rothermere during a literary talk during the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival on June 20 2022 in Salisbury...
Lord Rothermere during a literary talk during the Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival on June 20, 2022 in Salisbury, England.By Finnbarr Webster/WPA Pool/Getty Images.

As UK press baron Lord Rothermere explores a bid for Britain’s Daily Telegraph, the game of musical chairs among top executives at his flagship media property continues. I’ve learned that the Daily Mail is bidding farewell to Sean Walsh, its global chief brand officer and managing director of US operations. His exit is the latest in a churn of high-profile turnover atop the multicontinent tabloid operation over the past couple of years, following the ouster of Daily Mail print editor Geordie Greig; the departure of MailOnline boss Martin Clarke; and the departure and subsequent return of Paul Dacre, who now serves as editor in chief of parent entity DMG Media. 

Walsh’s name isn’t as widely recognizable as those of the other guys, but his exit is the type that will raise eyebrows among a certain set of tabloid insiders—and celebrity tabloid subjects, many of whom the Australian expat maintained close relationships with. Behind the scenes over the past decade, he was an operator who played a key role in putting the Mail on the map in America, a development I chronicled for this magazine back in 2020. Walsh, who advised the brass on brand strategy and communications, is also the reason you, say, read about Lisa Vanderpump at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, or about Donald Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle living it up at the Mail’s 2018 holiday party in New York, along with Martha Stewart and Carole Radziwill. He worked closely with contrarian former columnist Piers Morgan and also recruited the similarly acid-tongued Meghan McCain. Going forward, it appears there will be no more tabloid shenanigans for Walsh: I’m told he got a new job at a fintech start-up called Bilt Rewards and will be splitting his time between New York and Washington, DC.

Meanwhile, Lord Rothermere, whose family has lorded over the Mail since its founding in 1896, appears to be further consolidating his influence. In addition to successfully pushing to take Daily Mail and General Trust private in 2021, Rothermere assumed the role of CEO (on top of his chairmanship) and acquired the then 65-year-old New Scientist magazine; he is now exploring a takeover of one of Britain’s other major newspaper brands. Last week, after Sky News first reported Rothermere’s interest in the Telegraph, DMGT confirmed that it had joined the list of suitors. If Rothermere’s bid is successful, it will further elevate his stature in UK media and potentially see the Telegraph expand in the US, where other British tabloid (and tabloid-adjacent) titles, like The Sun, the Daily Mirror, and The Independent, have been expanding their footprints.