On Kirstie Allsopp & Turning Away from Journalism

Lifestyle

I’m a 22-year-old postgraduate student with a hearty career plan and a dislike for small children. Therefore, it may surprise you to hear that I am jumping to Kirstie Allsopp’s defence amid her latest comments in the Telegraph. She has spoken out in favour of early motherhood, warning young women of the heartache of dwindling fertility, and encouraging them to have children early and save university for later. 

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So why am I siding with her? I’ve chosen to do the exact opposite of her suggestion; I’m starting my Masters in September and I have a super career plan, and although I’m sure I’ll like my own children, at the moment I would much rather hang out with a box of puppies. I actually think her comments make a lot of sense, just as I understand how some people would disagree with them. But that’s not why I feel so ready to defend her. Neither is it our mutual love for crafting and baking and all things twee.

Before choosing to pursue writing and illustration, I seriously considered a career in journalism. I worked for my student newspaper and gained experience at The Guardian and Countryfile magazine, and I was on the verge of choosing journalism for my MA. Interestingly, although I enjoyed my time on the Guardian books desk, it was here that I realised it wasn’t the career for me. I hated the fickle nature of newspapers; one might invest so much time and effort into an article, only for it to be discarded forever the next day. Moreover, I didn’t like how everything was driven by money. I’m not naive; I know this is an essential element of the industry now, but it isn’t my cup of tea.

And this is the reason why my anger is directed not towards Kirstie, who simply stated her rational opinions on an important topic, but towards the newspapers that have taken her comments and twisted them into contorted, clickable headlines.

Here is a shortened quote from the original article:

‘We should speak honestly and frankly about fertility and the fact it falls off a cliff when you’re 35…At the moment, women have 15 years to go to university, get their career on track, try and buy a home and have a baby. That is a hell of a lot to ask someone. As a passionate feminist, I feel we have not been honest enough with women about this issue…But there is a huge inequality, which is that women have this time pressure that men don’t have…You can do your career afterwards…I don’t want the next generation of women to go through the heartache that my generation has.’

In the article she also talks about her relationship with her mother and her attitude towards marriage, so please do give it a read because it’s the only place you’ll find her actual comments written out in full. In contrast, here are some of the headlines chosen by mainstream newspapers, who chose to claw into her words and spread them out into statements of scandal:

For an industry that used to be about bringing truth to the masses, the media has become a squalid rabble itching to warp the truth in order to sell itself through glittering headlines. She has never encouraged women to ‘ditch university’ or ‘forget careers’, only to consider postponing them until later life. And for Emma Barnett to ask ‘why bother giving girls an education at all’ reminds me of an argumentative teenager.

From islamophobia to health scares and political bias, I’ve learnt not to trust the media industry with anything. I pray I am not famous one day, because I’m sure they’ll find something about how I’ve eaten enough cake to feed a third world country and therefore am responsible for all the slavery and terrorist attacks ever. I’m still thinking about what Kirstie said and what my own opinion on the matter is, but I won’t let myself become absorbed by clicking through to their ridiculous articles and feeding their gluttonous advertisers.

Ooo, I hate the media.

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31 thoughts on “On Kirstie Allsopp & Turning Away from Journalism

  1. couldn’t agree more – it’s truly sad that one cannot just say something in an interview without the meaning being completely twisted in the end… it’s just money and getting out of an interview those sentences which sound worst to be able to anger as many people as possible and sell the most newspapers as possible…

    1. They have so much to answer for! Such an undignified way to earn your money. Obviously not the same for all journalists, but from my experience it’s just not the sort of thing I want to get into!

      1. yes, I can understand your decision, but of course you could also say that the media circus would need someone with standards such as yours!! 😉

  2. With social media rampant, stupid and misleading headlines are merely slowing the death of British newspapers. I feel badly for the intelliegent and witty contributors who are canibalised by “colleagues” seeking attention.

    1. Absolutely. I’ve read some great pieces written by honest writers who hit the nail on the head using legitimate facts. If the attention-seeking contributors are having to resort to scandal and hysteria, they clearly aren’t journalists of caliber.

  3. I couldn’t agree more with you, or with Kirstie. I have been echoing her sentiments for years. Your mistrust in the media is very well-placed. If the majority of people had the ability to think critically about the things they read, then ‘glittering headlines’ would no longer be as sparkly and journalists would have to try a heck of a lot harder to gain the attentions of their readers. Unfortunately, people just soak up the nonsense in the likes of the Daily Mail and regurgitate it in an even less palatable state than it first appeared on paper. Great article.

    1. Oh god, the Daily Mail. I can’t believe I wrote an entire blog post about media sensationalism without mentioning the Mail! Perhaps it’s better not to mention it ever… Thanks for reading! 🙂

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more on this Tiffany. Like you I have chosen education over starting a family and am currently in the final months of my Masters in Fine Art. I’m 26 and am very happy with my choices which consist of education and travel but at the same time I can completely see where Kirstie is coming from. It’s infuriating reading so many misguided replies to Kirstie’s article from people who clearly have not read the whole thing. When I read the headlines I thought ‘oh dear’ and prepared myself to completely disagree passionately with Kirstie but actually agree with many of her points. It’s all about choice and knowing all the options available. If only the media were fair and reasonable, but as you say I guess that’s just how the industry works unfortunately. Good luck with your masters in September!

    1. We sound like we have similar life plans! 🙂 I agree, there are really good points in her argument that are being smothered by ridiculous headlines, and people won’t bother to read the original source. Choice is definitely the key, as with all feminist issues, definitely! Thank you for the luck, I hope your MA has been wonderful! x

  5. Two centuries on and the British press still can’t shake off its broadsheet past and stick to the facts. I’m no fan of Ms Allsopp, but she has a point. I know several women, now in their late 30s, who spent their 20s pursuing education and careers and avoiding pregnancy like it was the plague. Now they find they are unable to conceive, there is no clear reason why not and they are left wondering if their chances would have been better a decade ago. They will never know. Catch 22 isn’t it.

    Well written post Tiffany. Thanks to Alison May at Brocante Home for tweeting it to my attention.

    Ali

    1. Very true. It’s all important to discuss clearly rather than being smothered by ridiculous headlines! It’s just nice to highlight the different choices women have, because choice is all it comes down to in the end. Thanks very much for reading!

  6. I agree Tiffany – most of the papers have their own political agenda and can’t be trusted anyway. I disagree with Kirstie on many housing related issues – particularly property taxation, but I like her attitude to up-cycling and crafts – we should all do more of that – and I also agree with what she said in the Telegraph regarding fertility – and I think it’s much better to have children when you’re younger and fitter.

    Trouble is there’s so much competition and desire to earn lots of money, and materialism… but more importantly the difficulty of finding the right partner – and I think if one is contemplating having children the most important thing is finding the right partner and then when thinking about the children that they might have and what would be best for them. All too often I feel people have children for the wrong reasons – in many ways it’s like getting a dog – one might want a dog but would one’s future career and lifestyle choices be in the dog’s best interest?

    1. I like the dog analogy, very true! It’s so hard to know what you want at the age I am now, but it’s great for people to open debates like this so you can at least start thinking about it. I’ve had a nice background with lots of encouragement to succeed etc. but it’s actually really refreshing to hear that you can have children early if you want to without being seen as a ‘failure’. It’s all about choice. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  7. Newspapers and TV news have a lot to answer for. I hate the non-news you get from both. Full of half stories, repeated headlines and bullshit scaremongering. Fertility is definitely an issue these days and people need to know there is no financial help once you hit a certain age. I did everything right, college, university, career, was in a long term relationship, but that ended before we got a chance to have kids. Now Im 41 and my partner and had to try IVF since “nothing was happening”, but due to her age it was not free on NHS despite the fact we have both worked pretty much all of our lives. We ended up going abroad for IVF several times because it was a lot cheaper than in the UK, faster too, no waiting times which is important considering you dont know how many tries before it works. We lost 2 IVF babies, both at 20 weeks, 1 of which was caused by NHS refusal to perform an operation that they performed only after we lost 2nd baby, even though it was a known reason after the 1st loss. We have spent in the region of £40K-£50K on IVF, here & abroad.

    It feels like we have been penalised for leaving it so late to have kids, so my advice too to younger people would be to have kids because you certainly will not get any help from your government or NHS if you’re “too old” no matter how many taxes and NI you have paid. By the way, my gf is now 17 weeks pregnant again, so approaching that danger zone. Each time you cant help think this is the last chance, no money left after this. There is no right answer, there is no wrong answer, but if you’re a newspaper simply outputting shitty attention grabbing headlines with no facts or proper content you probably already realise you’re not respected in your industry and you don’t care anyway.

    1. Wow, sounds like you’ve really experienced the sort of thing Kirstie talks about. You’re right, there is no right or wrong answer; it’s just crucial that debates like these are opened up and discussed clearly so that young women can think properly about their decisions, rather than being swept up in the wave of ambition without considering all the options. That’s exactly what I’ve done if I’m honest. Very best wishes for you and your partner. Thanks for reading!

  8. Thank you for drawing attention to both what Ms. Allsopp actually said about the realities of career and childbearing and to the preposterous behavior of the media. By the way, I like the way you phrased it in your reply to Greg Smith’s comment: “…it’s actually really refreshing to hear that you can have children early if you want to without being seen as a ‘failure’.” It truly is about choice, each woman making the choice that is best for her and seeing herself (and being seen by society) as successful in and because of that choice, regardless of what it is.

    1. I agree, it really is about choice! I don’t like how lots of very aggressive women criticise others for wanting to have children and be housewives, which are great things to do and their own choices. Thanks for reading! 🙂

  9. Thanks so much for this post and a link to the original. Like many, I read the headlines and thought ‘what?’ but when you read what she said, it is quite different. As you so rightly say, the press pick up on something that will cause a sensation, ignoring the underlying message.

  10. I completely agree with you! I don’t know what I’m going to do with my life anymore, massive career overhaul needed. After working on Now I realised how it’s just not in my heart to be a part of the media machine!

      1. The sad fact is I’m not sure. I’m still in the process of applying for a masters starting in September, and am still awaiting a reference or two, so I feel like I may be a little too late. I’m writing, writing, writing in my spare time and working on the mag but I would love to know what I’m doing and I’d love to start earning some money for my first house and a pretty garden. 😦

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