Rosie the Riveter's legacy lives on, and this time, her likeness is being used not to sell cleaning products, but to support women's longform journalism, through a new magazine called The Riveter, founded by recent Missouri School of Journalism graduates Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz.
The Riveter ("Riveting Storytelling by Women") has plans to live online with shorter and more timely content, but its real bread and butter is the print edition; the first issue is out this week and has four lengthy articles. In an interview with Poynter, Ralph and Demikiewicz made it clear that they're hoping to add their voices and the voices of others to a growing media world that's focused on curating longform women's journalism because they think their simply isn't enough of it. They cited the VIDA report as an inspiration, which seems to be happening a lot lately:
We are both longform junkies, because we believe in the breadth of creativity, narrative, investigation, research, etc. allowed with this particular kind of storytelling. The fact that the VIDA numbers show most longform authors were men in 2012 (and in 2011 and 2010) proves a disconnect when we imagine the capabilities of women as storytellers. Longform is a vital form of communication; we want to make room for the female storytellers who communicate this way.
On their site, the women clarified that their emphasis on article length doesn't mean women should or should not write about traditionally "female" topics:
We accept submissions about anything and everything. You are not limited to the conventional female subjects (i.e. sex, love, family). In fact, we encourage and seek experimentation with alternative topics. But: “We accept submissions about anything and everything.” So yes to sex, love, family, etc. etc. etc.
The Riveter seems eager to promote the work of women while also making sure that they don't accidentally insult the many women out there who already feel as though they do work that's valuable, whether it's considered that way by peers and consumers or not. In a video from March promoting their Indiegogo campaign (which they used to raise money to pay their authors and create the first issue of the magazine), Ralph and Demikiewicz discuss their love of the New Yorker, explaining that they'd always wanted to write for a publication like that – and that they think they're talented to do that, despite the fact that they're starting their own magazine. It's a problem that's been seen in many industries; this publication is providing a special place for female journalists, but will that ostracize them or be the thing that pushes other legacy publications to do the same?
The likely scenario is that if "niche" publications like The Riveter take off and are financially successful, other journalistic institutions will see that and want to mimic it as well. That goes for diversity even within a magazine like The Riveter; people have to be pushed to do things outside of their norm, and for many, it's only the threat of money not shame that will do it for them. For their part, Ralph and Demikiewicz have already responded to slight criticism about the racial diversity of their writers; on Twitter, one woman asked if they were "making a formal initiative to be inclusive? Do you have a goal or standard to be diverse?" The pair wrote that they hope "that exposure like this will help us cast a wider net and lead to a broader pool of submissions." In its short lifespan so far, The Riveter is already learning that creating diversity is harder than it looks.