Women In Media: It’s The Mail Online’s Managing Editor Rhiannon Macdonald

Women In Media: It’s The Mail Online’s Managing Editor Rhiannon Macdonald

Today’s Women In Media profile features none other than the Mail Online’s managing editor Rhiannon Macdonald. Here, Ms Macdonald reveals how a girl from Townsville took on London and New York, her love of Donkey Kong and why her future doesn’t involve any shoes…

Anything with reward in life is going to cause you a bit of pain…
I’ve seen too many people come into the industry with stars in their eyes, not realising that it’s mostly hard work; but it’s the people who have that excellent work ethic and a high work rate that just stay ahead over everybody. There are certain things that you enjoy on the fringes, which you cherish and appreciate, but most of the time it’s just hard graft and discipline.

When I first stepped inside the four walls of Northcliffe House in London (Daily Mail’s UK HQ) I realised I was with the best of the best…
The Daily Mail’s not an easy place to work. Whether you love it or hate it – and most people have very strong opinions one way or the other – I always say it’s a place that believes deeply in letting journalists do what they need to do. People like me, the girl from the bush, are able to grow amazing careers here, because you get the freedom to do it. And what drives me is getting results.

I’m very proud I was amongsthe four senior managers that set up the New York office in 2011…
I had just three days’ notice before I went and walked into the loft space 48 hours before it was due to launch. Martin Clarke had issued me with three instructions: Make sure the computers work, make sure there are desks, and make sure the journalists all get there in one piece – we flew 12 journalists out from the UK to set it up. The desks had arrived but they were all flat-packed. The floors were newly sanded so all the computers were wrapped up in plastic to protect them from the dust, and myself and this poor IT guy, physically put all the desks together with a screwdriver. My blood sweat and tears are probably still on the walls.

I don’t find it a challenge being a woman in a male dominated industry…
It makes me proud that most of the senior management at Mail Online are women. Indeed 49 per cent of the staff at Mail Online worldwide are women.

 My most defining career moment was when the lift door closed at the end of that year…
I was heading home for Christmas and when I looked up and it struck me a that moment, what we had built from nothing. We had a buzzing little newsroom in SoHo and I’d been at Associated Newspapers long enough to know what we were doing was pretty special. We didn’t really take a break that year, it was stressful but exciting to be a part of the launch. I’m proud that all that the result of all that hard work is Dailymail.com which is based at our shiny new offices at Astor Place, where where we now employ 90 people. That’s my little bit of the Daily Mail, the bit that I built myself.

My era was Donkey Kong…
We recently collaborated with SnapChat andI went to LA to meet Evan Spiegel and his team.  It’s an exciting new project because you’d never imagine the two companies collaborating. We’re polar opposites in culture; they’re a tech startup in the middle of Venice Beach and it’s a very casual environment  – everyone wears jeans and trainers. Nevertheless, we found a common ground.  We share the same values, passion for our products and the drive to absolutely be the best we can. I obviously had to ask my 12-year-old nephew ‘do you think you could teach me how to use this because I’m going to go and meet the owner?’ He just rolled his eyes and was like, ‘oh God’! But it’s fascinating watching him use it. My era was Donkey Kong, his era is iPhones and they’re just so interactive with these multi-platform apps, and his friends just taking selfies and sending them to each other with messages. In fact, my 12-year-old nephew’s phone is better than mine. There’s something wrong here.

My industry superstars have to be our editors…
My day-to day-heroes are editors, Luke McIlveen here in Australia, Danny Groom in the UK and Katherine Thomson in the US. I feel privileged every day that I work alongside these people. I guess the woman I look up to the most is Katherine as we’re the same age.  She is the editor of the Dailymail.com in a very male dominated industry at the age of 37. I think that’s pretty extraordinary. And Martin Clarke for being a great mentor and editor.

I come from a good working class background in Townsville…
We were always taught to put your head down and bum up, follow your dreams and go out into the world and make a difference. My parents are like chalk and cheese – mum’s a very driven businesswoman and dad is happy-go-lucky and I think I was fortunate that I and ended up with the best attributes from the both of them and four amazing parents, two step-parents who have been in my life for 20 years. Whenever I go home, everything’s just normal, it doesn’t matter what’s happened in the land of the Daily Mail.

When I finally hang up the stilettos I’ll probably work in natural medicine…
You’ll find me in an environment somewhere, with no shoes on, treating people.



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