Why Are Journalists So Self-Deprecating?

Writers should acknowledge the work involved in producing content

Today I’d like to talk about self-deprecation. Perhaps you’ve seen a journalist on your timeline say “Hey, so, um, I wrote a thing!!” as they throw an article they worked tirelessly on out into the ether. Chances are, they are probably female and they are using understated language to downplay their accomplishment in case nobody reads their “thing” (the “thing” in question being a 2,500-word feature that involved extensive work).

It’s scary putting your work out into the world. I live in fear of posting an article I’ve written to my feed, only for one of the many, many reply guys who live in my mentions to tell me that I’ve spelt someone’s name wrong in my introduction. I cringe every time I see a typo that’s snuck past my editor. But I still think it’s important to share your work on social media and celebrate each thing you write regardless of whether anyone actually reads it, or points out all your mistakes to you.

I had an interesting interaction with a follower recently, who told me off for being self-deprecating. I posted an interview I did four years ago with James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins) to my timeline and said it was “the silliest thing I’d ever done” because I refused to talk to them about Harry Potter. Yep, literally the only thing they are famous for. You can read the piece which I called “the worst profile in the world” here.

This stranger made me sit back and take stock of the way that I talk about my own achievements on social media; I’m now more consciously proud about everything I post relating to my work.

Women are especially guilty of downplaying their achievements, as the replies to the imposter syndrome thread that I shared in last week’s newsletter showed. But a lack of self-confidence can affect everyone, and so this week I’d like to challenge you all to post some work that you are really proud of.

Here’s my brag to get the ball rolling: I laid a 68-page magazine by myself and she’s bloody gorgeous. I have no MA in magazine journalism to speak of — I taught myself how to use Adobe Creative Suite — but I’m really impressed with how the finished product turned out. It’s in a different league to our first ever print edition, which we published in May. I am so incredibly proud of myself for making this beautiful object (shoutout to the amazing editors at The Indiependent who helped make the content so fab to begin with), especially considering I laid the mag about a week after ending my long-term relationship. She’s bloody beautiful, and you can get your copy here.

My week

… in editing

It’s now December which means that I recently had the joy of choosing The Indiependent’s Writer of the Month for November. Nominated by five editors, Ed Brown (@edjcb96) won for his piece ‘ The glorious gladiatorial arena of labour factions’. Orla McAndrew (@OrlaMMcAndrew2) bagged the highest performing article of November 2020 with her piece ‘’ Derry Girls’ teaches us more about Ireland than school did ‘. It’s such a privilege to work with such great upcoming journalists so please do read their work!

… in writing

Pitches: 2

One got an out of office, which means I may as well just yeet myself into the sea.

I also got a rejection for two pitches I sent about three months ago 🤷‍♀️

Commissions: 1 (unpaid — for the site I run — The Indiependent)

Articles written: 5

Articles published: 4

I wrote three short pieces for The Indiependent, one review of the new Yungblud song ‘mars’, one about the Paul Mescal/Phoebe Bridgers collab, and another about Bombay Bicycle Club’s new live album. Oh, and I interviewed Ed Nash from the band. No big deal (very big deal). You can read the Bombay Bicycle Club interview here. I also wrote an opinion piece, but I’ll share that next week when it’s published.

… in listening/watching

I went to a BAFTA event called ‘Guru Live: BBC Writersroom at Twenty’ on Monday. The speakers included writer Peter Bowker ( The A Word, World on Fire, Marvellous); actor/writer Isis Davis ( Killing Eve); Head of BBC Writersroom Anne Edyvean; Senior Commissioning Editor for BBC Drama Manda Levin, and writer Vinay Patel ( Murdered by My Father, Doctor Who).

On 2 December I went to a lunchtime lecture with Anna Kessel from Telegraph Women’s Sport. Then the brilliant, brilliant Laura Snapes (one of my favourite journalists) did a great masterclass with Terri White on Thursday evening. I particularly loved the advice to put your work in size 16 pink Comic Sans font when you’re ready to do a final edit.

… in reading

Originally published at https://thepeakdistrict.substack.com.

The Indiependent Founder, NCTJ qualified journalist, Oxford University grad. Interested in tech, political communication & data ethics. Tweets: @BettyKirkers

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