In her final editor’s letter, Tavi Gevinson announced that she would be folding indie magazine Rookie today, seven years after she started it in 2011. She begins the 6-page letter by stating:
“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. 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. And in yet another way, it doesn’t feel like I’m deciding not to do all that, because I have explored all of these options, and am unable to proceed with any of them. My resistance was confusing and painful to discover, and is at odds with how much Rookie means to me and how badly I would like to see it grow and evolve. It 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.”
For Gevinson and her readers, Rookie started out as a place where creative ideas and feminist discussions could happen naturally, without prioritizing profit. But, as Gevinson and Rookie grew, she struggled with the intersection of art and commerce. “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,” she writes.
Gevinson eventually accepted that it might be beneficial to grow her website, but after embarking on the journey of meeting with investors, she felt tired, and fraudulent. This was all taking place during the “Summer of Scam,” led by The Cut’s story on Anna Delvey.
“I wasn’t a Bryce at heart, but I thought I could pretend for a few meetings or years in order to keep the art project alive and get myself some financial reward. I thought I could make my essential qualities malleable. I didn’t see that the life one truly wants probably wouldn’t require such shapeshifting.”
But after deliberating, Gevinson made the difficult decision to shut down the magazine, rather than diluting the authenticity of her brand in the name of profit. The magazine will cease to publish, but the website will stay up for “at least a few months” and the shop will remain open until the end of the year.
“It will take a long time for me to process the rareness of this connection, and the feeling that it’s over. But it’s not over. The changes people create in one another do not go away. The people you grow up with stay with you forever. You made Rookie with us, and its spirit will live on in whatever comes next for us all.”