5 of the best: Inspirational Female Journalists

I have a very specific writing style I like to read – that is, one that is similar to my own. Or at least, similar to how I would like it to be. Put it this way, if someone asked me now what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would confidently say “Caitlin Moran” (or indeed any of the ladies on this list!) For those people who are interested in the female journalists who have influenced my writing, I’ve decided to pull together a comprehensive list. There will be no test at the end!

Caitlin Moran

“She writes whatever she wants to write about and that’s what makes her work so accessible.”

Best to start at the top of the shop – I love Caitlin Moran’s writing. It’s sharp, honest and funny. Her latest book ‘Moranifesto’ is the reason I started this blog in the first place. Moran has been writing since she was a teenager, and has a regular column in the times, in which she covers social issues, reviews and current affairs. She writes whatever she wants to write about and that’s what makes her work so accessible. Some of her pieces are laugh out loud funny. She wrote a piece about her obsession with the song ‘Get Lucky’ that just gets funnier and funnier as it goes along. Some of her pieces are heartbreaking, like her open letter to the teenage girls she meets at book signings. Her writing is candid and honest – like listening to a ranty but much adored best mate in the pub.

Read Caitlin Moran’s excellent piece about starting and winning an argument online – a constant source of inspiration for me.

(She also co-wrote the brilliant (and criminally underrated) Raised By Wolves, which if you can still catch it on Channel 4’s on demand service, you should. Like right now- particularly as Moran announced this week that ch4 had axed it. Find #upthewolves on your favourite social media outlet to learn more.)

Grace Dent

“Also, she’s northern, and therefore better than most people.”

Grace Dent came onto my radar when she took over The Guardian’s tv review column – I’m a huge fan of Charlie Brooker and the fact she came with his recommendation meant I had to read her stuff! Also, she’s northern, and therefore better than most people. She currently writes for the Independent, with an opinion column mid-week and a review column on a Saturday. A lot of her opinion pieces focus on things going on that make her uneasy which is exactly what I like about her – those things are making me uneasy too! Sometimes the world makes me think “am I going crazy?” then Grace Dent’s column sidles onto my Facebook timeline and whispers “I think this too… Let’s discuss it at length over an iced latte.”

Treat yourself and read her fab article on Bob Geldof’s public temper tantrum at the Isle of Wight festival – it’s very funny and has some excellent descriptions of Sir Bob!

Hadley Freeman

“She probably wouldn’t have been my friend at school… Dreams = shattered!”

I wish Hadley Freeman had been at my school as I’m sure we would have been friends. Her style is cool and funny, with the kind of nostalgia one gets from having been a teenager in the 90s (actually, I’ve just googled her, and we would have just missed each other at school, so she probably wouldn’t have been my friend… Dreams = shattered!) She’s written 3 great books – Be Awesome, The Meaning of Sunglasses and Life Moves Pretty Fast, which I loved because they covered three topics I’m passionate about: feminism, fashion and 80s movies. She also writes for the Guardian and her work is very well observed and clever. Her “Ask Hadley” pieces are particularly good, as she takes the idea of a fluffy fashion advice column and uses it to discuss some serious current issues in a funny way – in a kind of you’ve-got-to-laugh-or-you’d-cry way. She’s got a very dry writing style, peppered with awesome cultural references. I find myself laughing out loud every time I read her stuff (I did genuinely do this on a train reading The Meaning of Sunglasses – people looked!)

She wrote a very good piece about women in power after Theresa May was made PM. I had gone for a similar vibe in my own earlier piece ‘We Need to Talk About Feminism’, and the similarity gave me a lot of hope that my writing is on the right track!

Lindy West 

“She is a woman with a huge social conscience and will not remain silent about the things that are wrong with the world.”

I didn’t realise I was a fan of Lindy West until I read her book ‘Shrill’ a month or so ago. Then I realised I had read a number of her articles in the past and thought she was great for ages. What a tool I was! West writes for GQ magazine and is often featured in the Guardian. Unfairly, West is frequently the target of internet trolls, due to her weight, her anti-rape joke views and her opinion that abortion should be discussed in an open forum. She is a woman with a huge social conscience and will not remain silent about the things that are wrong with the world. Her book is phenomenal- she is genuinely a woman who has changed the world she lives in. She is also extremely vulnerable, but I think that’s what makes her writing so amazing. She’s clearly thought to herself “this is going to hurt, but I’m saying anyway, because someone has to!” and she does it all with good humour and unapologetic gusto.

One of the first Lindy West articles I read (not knowing it was Lindy West…) was this one about how she took on an internet troll pretending to be her late father. She challenged the person head on, tried to understand him, and got the apology she deserved. It’s a brilliant insight into the minds of people who abuse others online.

Hazel Davis

“She uses the word ‘bellend’ in her Twitter profile (which is my favourite word!)”

Hazel Davis is a freelance writer who came to my attention because a) she writes articles that I really enjoy in Standard Issue Magazine and b) she uses the word ‘bellend’ in her Twitter profile (which is my favourite word!). Her work is snappy and quirky, and she has lots of interesting things to say about motherhood (which I’m sure I’ll enjoy even more in the event I am ever a mother!) Her writing topics are varied, but her take on friendship is always a pleasure to read, with a tinge of social awkwardness from youth I really relate to!

One of my favourite articles of hers is about making friends with someone almost entirely over Facebook.  It’s very clever because it taps into something so prevalent in the virtual world – our friendships and support networks don’t have to be limited to the people who are immediately geographically accessible. It’s very bloody modern.

While this is not an exhaustive list, I thought five was a good place to start. If you read my work, you’ll probably see the influence of these ladies – at least I hope you will. And if you do see their influence, I’ll be flattered, because they are very awesome writers indeed!

1 thought on “5 of the best: Inspirational Female Journalists

Leave a Reply