I will never write an article for Rookie Mag. I think I submitted my first pitch over email to the magazine my freshman year of high school. It was a world before résumés, before applications. I believe my pitch went a little something like this:
My name is Zoe Allen, I’m fifteen years old, and I live in Dallas, Texas. I love Rookie so much, and your publication has inspired me to share my writing with a larger audience. I have an idea to write a story about [insert topic here] and was hoping that Rookie would be interested in publishing this content. It would be such an honor to have my work published on Rookie, I would write the article for free.
I look forward to hearing from you soon, and thank you so much for your time.
Despite the naivete and simplicity of these words, I can guarantee my first email to Rookie was something along those lines. My newly teenage self was so awed by the magazine that I genuinely offered to do the work without compensation, even though I knew they paid their writers. I didn’t care—all I wanted was a byline on their website.
On November 30th, Rookie’s founding editor-in-chief, Tavi Gevinson, announced that the publication would be folding. In a heart-wrenching five-page editor’s letter entitled “Thank you for growing up with us,” Gevinson details the tribulations she faced in attempting to sustain Rookie. “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,” says Gevinson in Rookie’s final article. “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.”
For many, the conclusion of Rookie marks not just the end of an era of their first forays into DIY culture, but the end of adolescence. Rookie was a safe space for so many young creatives similar to me—the pinnacle of achievement by young women. Gevinson started the blog in 2011, when she was fifteen years old. At fifteen! At the same age, all I wanted was to be noticed by Rookie. To me, that Rookie byline was a dream, and at fifteen, sixteen years old, there was nothing more I wanted than to be a part of it all.
Although I never achieved my goal of obtaining a Rookie byline, I was inspired by the publication to submit my writing elsewhere, which has landed me the role of Story Editor at Crybaby Zine and as a writer here at Adolescent. Without Rookie, I do not know if I would have found these publications, or been as willing to venture into zine culture. Without Rookie, many of the publications to which I’ve submitted would not exist.
I am currently pursuing a degree in journalism at my university, and write for two publications on campu. I am, above all else, a writer, and despite never having written for Rookie, the magazine has shaped not only my chosen career path, but all of my high school experience. And wasn’t that the purpose of Rookie—to guide adolescent girls through the most strenuous, confusing of times? To build an environment, an oracle, to which people like me could turn in the face of crisis, of anxiety?
Rookie inspired an entire generation of creatives; not only those at Rookie, but creatives who decided that if Tavi Gevinson could create an empowering DIY empire from scratch, they could too. Rookie legitimized online girl culture through a veritable publication, broke down barriers that were previously believed to be impenetrable by many, and most importantly, provided a safe space for young creatives to share their work with a community that cared.
Many hearts around the world broke the day that Gevinson announced Rookie’s closure. The editors of Crybaby mourned the folding of the publication in our group chat, and vowed to keep working to make Crybaby an even better version of what it is today, reminiscing about all that the publication had offered.
Gevinson writes in her letter that Rookie’s end “almost doesn’t feel like it should be up to me, because it has such a full life of its own, and is so connected to the lives of others.” In these words, Gevinson memorialized Rookie’s legacy by reminding the world of the impact that the publication will leave. It has galvanized the next generation of collectives, publications, and young creatives, and because of its reach and impact, Rookie is far from over.