It's been a hard week in the world of media: On Thursday, Mic announced massive layoffs and was then promptly purchased by Bustle, and now Rookie Magazine, the brainchild of fashion blogging wunderkind-turned-writer/editor/actor Tavi Gevinson, has also announced that it's folding.
Founded by Gevinson in 2011 when she was just 15, Rookie was a site populated with content made by and for teen girls. Originally known for her outfit blog "Style Rookie," which catapulted Gevinson into the spotlight (and the front row of New York Fashion Week) when she was 11, Rookie Magazine represented Gevinson's pivot to a wider platform that addressed politics, relationships, pop culture and art in addition to fashion and beauty.
"In one way, this is not my decision, because digital media has become an increasingly difficult business, and Rookie in its current form is no longer financially sustainable," writes Gevinson in her last editor's letter. "And in another way, it is my decision — to not do the things that might make it financially sustainable, like selling it to new owners, taking money from investors, or asking readers for donations or subscriptions."
Gevinson goes on in the letter to detail the process of trying to move Rookie toward financial stability — pursuing investors and having conversations with venture capitalists — and how she ultimately came to decide that shutting down was the best option for both herself and the publication.
In a media landscape that has been irrevocably changed by the 2016 election to become more unapologetically political and positive about feminism, and after a handful of years that have seen Teen Vogue lauded as the voice of a smarter, more-woke next generation, it might be easy to forget how revolutionary Rookie was when it began.
But in many ways, Gevinson and her team of contributors paved the way for what was to come in more mainstream outlets aimed at young people. Rookie proved, when very few others were interested in doing so, that teen girls don't need to be talked down to and are capable of appreciating — and creating — thoughtful, inclusive and creative content. Not only did Rookie help create space for that, but it helped further the careers of people like photographer Petra Collins and writer Arabelle Sicardi, in addition to Gevinson herself, all of whom continue to contribute to the dialogue around fashion, beauty and culture in thoughtful ways from femme and queer perspectives.
"To everyone who has bared their souls through their writing and art on Rookie, making us all feel seen, heard, connected and inspired; making Rookie better, smarter and more human: Thank you. It has been an absolute gift," writes Gevinson.