Lit Crit Femsplainers

A Diversity Problem That Nobody is Talking About

I have written elsewhere in this blog about the overrepresentation female English Literature Graduates, from Oxbridge in particular, in our media. Most of these journalists have pronounced feminist leanings. See The Feminist Glass Escalator, Laura Bates and the axis of radicalisation. For an amusing account of how that degree can lead to radicalisation of the more gullible, see this conversation between Helen Pluckrose and Andrew Doyle. For a more detailed critique of the Literary Theory courses that may have coloured the thinking of these journalists, see The Stifling Uniformity of Literary Theory in Quillette.

Below is an incomplete list list of English Literature graduates working for our daily press that was compiled on an ad hoc basis by researching journalists as their names cropped up. I expect the list to continue growing over time. The newspaper affiliations I have given simply reflect where I saw an article that piqued my interest. In many cases these are freelance journalists pursuing what must be an insecure and precarious freelance existence.

NameNewspaper*SchoolUniversitySubject
Katherine VinerGuardian (Ed)StateOxford, PembrokeEng Lit
Marina HydeGuardianPrivateOxford, ChristchurchEng Lit
Arwa MahdawiGuardian?OxfordEng Lit
Alexandra ToppingGuardian + FstateOxfordEng lit
Hadley FreemanGuardianPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Emma BrockesGuardian?Oxford, St EdmundsEng Lit
Gabby HinsliffeGuardian?Cambridge Queen CollegeEng Lit
Sirin KaleGuardian?OxfordEng Lit
Alison FloodGuardian?CambridgeEng Lit
Imogen West-Knights(F) GuardianPrivateOxfordEng lit
Jane MartinsonGuardianStateCambridge, Christ’s Eng Lit
Laura BartonGuardianPrivateOxford, WorcesterEng Lit
Emma HughesGuardian?CambridgeEng Lit
Flannery Dean(F)+ Guardian?TorontoEng Lit
Catherine BennettGuardianOxford?Eng Lit
Carol CadwalladrGuardianStateOxford?Eng Lit
Rachel Cooke(F) GuardianOxford?Eng Lit
Stephanie MerrittGuardian?CambridgeEng Lit
Jessica MurrayGuardian?LeedsEng Lit
Lucy ManganGuardian?CambridgeEng Lit
Fiona HarveyGuardian (environment)?CambridgeEng Lit
Nancy Jo Sales(F) GuardianIndependentYaleLiterature
Laurie Penny(F) New Statesman,GuardianPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Pandora Sykes(F) GuardianLeedsEng Lit
Rebecca Solnit(F) GuardianSan FranciscoEng Lit
Nicola Slawson(F) (Guardian intern)?Leicester De MontfortEng Lit
Camilla LongTimesPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Nell Frizzell(F) Guardian?LeedsEng Lit
Helen RumbelowTimes?OxfordEng Lit
Eleanor MillsTimesPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Clare FogesTimes?SouthamptonEng Lit
Alison PearsonDaily TelegraphStateCambridgeEng Lit
Zoe StrimpelDaily TelegraphPrivateCambridgeEng Lit
Olivia UtleyDaily Telegraph?YorkEng Lit, Art
Jemima LewisDaily Telegraph (F)BristolEng Lit
Madeline GrantDaily Telegraph?OxfordEng Lit
Jane Shilling(F) Daily Telegraph?OxfordEng Lit
Kerry Potter(F) Daily TelegraphCambridgeEng Lit
Charlotte LyttonDaily Telegraph?BirminghamEng Lit
Christina PattersonIndependent
(F)
?DurhamEng Lit
Harriet WilliamsonIndependent
(F)
?WarwickEng Lit
Louise BoyleIndependent
(climate correspondent)
?EdinburghEng Lit
Holly BaxterIndependent?UCLEng Lit
Franki Cookney(F) Independent?DurhamEng Lit/Psychol
Roisin O’Connor(F) IndependentSwanseaEng/Creative Writing
May Bulman(F) IndependentStateSouthamptonEng/French
Angela Epstein(F) IndependentPrivateManchesterEng Lit
Phoebe Snedker(f) IndependentBirminghamEng Lit
Emma Burnell(F) Independent?KentEnglish /sociology
Olivia PetterIndependentBristolEng Lit
Bel TrewIndependent/Times?CambridgeEng Lit
Emma Clarke(F) IndependentPrivateOxfordEnglit
Hannah FearnIndependent, Guardian?ManchesterEng Lit, Philosophy
Isabel HardmanSpectatorStateExeterEng Lit
Cathy NewmanC4 NewsPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Emily MaitlisBBC NewsnightStateCambridge Eng Lit
Naga MunchettyBBC NewsStateLeeds Eng Lit
Kate GarrawayITV NewsStateBathEng + History
Victoria DerbyshireBBC NewsStateLiverpoolEng Lit
Mary HarringtonUnherdOxford Eng Lit
Ella WhelanSpikedSussexEng Lit
Tanya GoldSpectatorPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Sarah DitumGuardian +?SheffieldEng Lit
Helen Lewis(F) New StatesmanPrivateOxfordEng Lit
Juliet JacquesGuardian, New StatesmanStateSussexLiterature and Film
Karisma VaswanyBBC News?WarwickEng Lit
Lara OwenBBC News?LeedsEng and Chines Lit
Helen BoadenBBCSussexEng Lit
Katie StallardSky News?University College LondonEng Lit
Hatty CollierThe ‘i’?Sheffield Eng Lit
Victoria FinanYorkshire Post?East AngliaEng Lit + History
Sally ChattertonUnherd?BirminghamEng Lit
Laura BatesFreelancePrivateCambridgeEng Lit
Sarah GrahamFreelance?WarwickEng Lit
French
Victoria SmithFreelance?LeedsEng/Italian
Abigail O’Leary Daily MirrorStateLeicesterEng Lit
Kate DennettMailonlineStateSussexEng Lit
Kathryn KnightMailonline (F)?OxfordEng Lit
Harriet Johnston Mailonline (F)GlasgowEng Lit
Maria ChiorandoMailonline (F)?Royal HollowayEng Lit
Rachel MossHuff Post?East AngliaEng Lit
Faima BakarHuff PostQueen Mary LondonEng Lit
Kate NicholsonHuff PostBristolEng Lit
An incomplete list of English Literature Graduates writing for our news papers. (F) = freelance

There are some obvious limitations to my approach. I do not have a list of all journalists so I can’t say what percentage of the total are English Literature Graduates. My list is clearly incomplete, many journalists are a little bit coy about revealing their degree specialisation and schooling. There are some journalists such as Janice Turner at the Times, who I suspect are English Lit graduates but their profiles only stay BA Hons. Even the female journalists who were not English Lit graduates mostly came from a humanities background at Russell Group universities.

Not all of these journalists are bad. Mary Harrington is always worth reading, whether you agree with her or not. Hadley Freeman who writes for the Guardian is at least capable of displaying a degree of humanity alongside her feminist writing. Sirin Kale has just written a really good article in the Guardian about lorry drivers (mostly male) ‘The hidden life of a lorry driver‘ – I was pleasantly surprised, almost shocked, to see this article in Guardian of all places.

What about male journalists? That is a work in progress, but it is already clear that they are a more cognitively diverse group. Furthermore, men are rarely asked to comment on gender issues. Women, it seems, have a monopoly of wisdom in this area.

Does the preponderance of Eng Lit graduates matter? I believe it does for reasons I have outlined in previous posts. Take, for example, Fiona Harvey who writes about the environment for the Guardian. She has no relevant training and expertise and predictably falls back on feminist clichés when reporting environmental issues. She tells us that ‘women are on the frontline in terms of vulnerability to the climates crisis.’ Really? Humankind is on the frontline, men and women. Toxic and myopic nonsense like this hampers a proper response to the climate emergency. Journalism matters and that is why we can not afford narrow-minded ideologues reporting on the evolving climate crisis.

For another example, look at the writing of Rachel Moss in Huff Post. Reporting on the decline in women under 30 having children, Rachel plunges straight into an attack on men accusing them of immaturity. Have men become less mature than they were in the 1960s? Rachel doesn’t provide any evidence for that point of view and I rather doubt that they have. It is more likely that this is a multifactorial problem. For example, housing costs more and it takes couples longer to acquire enough resources to make them consider raising a family. Childcare costs are also prohibitively expensive for some couples. Male behaviour may also be changing, but that may be a rational decision based on the anti-male bias of the family court system and the potentially ruinous consequences of divorce. Men could be, as psychologist Helen Smith tells us, ‘going on strike‘. The issue is an important one that requires a more complex and nuanced discussion than Rachel Moss seems capable of providing.

We urgently need a more cognitively diverse range of journalists and that should mean a lot fewer English Literature graduates with depressingly similar and predictable opinions.

By femgoggles

I was abandoned by my parents in the black mountains and raised by timberwolves. On my return to the 'civilised world' with questionable table manners, I became a detached observer of human behaviour in general and gender relations in particular. This blog is the product of those observations.

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