As of today, Rookie, the landmark publication for and by teen girls, is no longer.
Founder Tavi Gevinson, who launched the site seven years ago when media for young women left much to be desired, announced its shuttering in a lengthy, heartfelt editor’s letter, thanking Rookie’s almost decade-long readership for “growing up with us.”
She describes, in compelling detail, Rookie’s maturation: from her conception of it at age 15 and its first three years when she lived at home with her parents, to moving to New York, employing a real editorial staff and growing it to be “so much bigger” than she was, to, in its final years, sitting down with publisher Lauren Redding in an attempt to discover how to make this monster media outlet, the one that meant so much to so many, tenable. They looked, they located an angel investor, and Gevinson found herself plagued not by a familiar scene of imposter syndrome, but “scammer syndrome.” Giving Rookie to someone else didn’t feel right. And so, it is over.
Within the first five sentences Gevinson reveals Rookie to be “no longer financially sustainable,” plagued by the same monetary decline visible across all media today, especially those that cater to women’s interests—in 2018 alone, the Hairpin and Lenny Letter ceased publication, Glamour and Teen Vogue went digital-only, xojane’s archive was erased, Bitch Magazine continues to be never not fundraising. Gevinson writes that she could’ve taken other avenues could’ve been taken to keep Rookie afloat—“selling to new owners, taking money from investors, or asking readers for donations or subscriptions,” as she writes—but she elected against them. However bittersweet, she’s right to determine Rookie’s own expiration date. She should claim control over her creation.
This is ending on the high note, not suffering the inevitable dilution of her project with new financial concerns and management. (She writes, “I feared waking up in my 20s and finding that I’d produced 1,000 corny videos for a website that was once my baby and was now under the control of a guy named, I don’t know, Bryce,” which I’m going to chose to believe is an allusion to Bryan Goldberg. Her “Bryce problem” appears a few times throughout the letter.)
The demise of any media entity is now an almost daily circumstance, but in the case of Rookie, the eulogizing is warranted—the publication transformed the way in which we think and write about young women (not to mention, the careers of many young writers—several Jezebel staffers, past and present, wrote for the site). There would be no political radicalization of Teen Vogue without Rookie. The media landscape itself, especially for those of us who call ourselves feminists, would look very different. And for that, it’s good to be grateful.
Rookie’s shop will remain open until the end of the year and the site will stay up “for at least a few months.”
Correction: A previous version of this piece described Bitch as discussing “potential closure.” Bitch has not discussed “potential closure” for over a decade, and it is alive and well. Jezebel regrets the error.