According to Australian journalist Patrick Baume, the past decade has seen the media change “more rapidly than any large-scale global industry in the world” (Baume, 2009). The internet and digitalisation of a variety of broadcast outlets have allowed people such as young entrepreneur Tavi Gevinson to embrace this change with open arms. Despite being just nineteen years old, Gevinson has been in the industry since the age of eleven when she launched her first blog Style Rookie. Over the course of her short but diverse career, Gevinson has applied the practices of media and technological convergence through her blog and online magazine and has adapted to cultural and global trends influenced by the rise of the internet and globalisation. Furthermore, she has opened the platform for a new feminist conversation in the Public Sphere as well as contributed to the Fourth Estate by challenging the way girls are viewed in the media. Gevinson is an inspiring media professional and a role model to not only millennials but all those working in the media and creative industries.
Gevinson’s career took off at high speed when her Comme de Garçons inspired fashion blog began averaging around 50,000 views per day only a few months after its initial launch. Just one year later, the blog had been featured in Teen Vouge, French Vogue the New York Times and won Gevinson a front row fashion week seat next to American Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Her success continued to rise and in late 2011, she shifted from her fashion roots and launched an online feminist magazine titled Rookie, inspired by the confessional culture bible Sassy. Rookie, which already has four print publications known as the Rookie Yearbooks, is aimed at female youth and is estimated to receive approximately 3.5 million hits per day.
Gevinson, who was named by Time Magazine in 2014 as one of the most influential youth, has inspired not only myself but millions of girls globally to find a passion and turn it into a career. One of the many reasons Gevinson’s career interests me is because writing for an online magazine with an aesthetic similar to Rookie is something I want to pursue myself as an aspiring media professional. There are countless female bloggers on the internet today, but not many of whom have sustained such relevance in the way Gevinson has. Remaining relevant is an ongoing fear many content creators face daily, and defying this has made her an inspiration for myself and others who wish to follow in her footsteps. Gevinson has been able to use her platform to empower girls and discuss many topics such as LGBT issues, relationships, style, music, artistic inspiration and most predominantly, feminism, which are all issues I care for and wish to explore further in my own life and writing. She has had the opportunity to interview many popular female figures such as Emma Watson, Lorde, Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus and despite being so young, she approaches all tasks with professionalism and passion. Alt-Pop sensation Lorde told Rolling Stone, “Had I not been fortunate enough to grow up with the never-ending wisdom and confusion of Tavi, I wouldn’t be the same. She is fearsome. Her writing, her aesthetic leaning, her need to have more, to know more, sparked that in me and infected everyone young today.” It is clear that her invaluable insight into exploring the ins and outs of being a teenager have inspired many girls globally, but Gevinson herself has also benefited from combining different media avenues into furthering her career, and although this was an organic process for her, it has played a large part in a media convergence.
With the recent surge of new technologies, converging traditional forms of broadcasting with digital alternatives has been a fast but inevitable process. Online blogging is a phenomenon that has removed the barrier between the writer and reader and allowed her to successfully combine what once was personal fashions thoughts into a very successful feminist oriented magazine. Rookie, which is edited by Gevinson but written by teenage girls around the world, has become a safe sanctuary for many confused teenagers who now feel a connection to something in a way that was not possible before the internet. Previous professional media forums simply did not have the capacity to create a community in the way Rookie has, and this suggests that the convergence of journalism and the internet has likely sparked many positive outcomes. Technological convergence, which has lowered the barriers for entry to media production, has enabled her to build her public profile directly through her own computer and circle this information globally within seconds. Readers of Rookie can personally connect with Gevinson and her experiences via a direct form of communication in the comments section which is very different than reading an article in a newspaper or a column in a magazine (Rookie Magazine 2016). Gevinson connects with her 440,000 Instagram followers daily as well as sharing her thoughts via Twitter to her following of 365,000. This provides a place for feedback as well as a platform for potential business opportunities.
One of the many benefits of having an online presence is that your audience is far from being just local or national. As globalisation master Tomas Friedman points out, the internet has “flattened the world without regard to geography, distance, or in the near future, language,” and this is ultimately why Gevinson has engaged audiences globally in such a short space of time. Rookie magazine is read by young women from all parts of the world, and the published yearbooks are available to be purchased and shipped internationally. As globalisation has resulted in the rapid spread of information to anyone with an internet connection, people now no longer need to wait for their favourite magazine to hit stores, but can read new content daily at any time. As for Australia, Gevinson has made multiple trips down under and during her time here has managed to speak to Australian Vogue, Yen Magazine, Triple J, The Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Writers Festival, The Project and finally was a keynote speak at a Sydney Opera House event. Prior to Globalisation, these opportunities and corroborations with international medias would simply not be possible.
Gevinson’s large following on her social media sites as well the publicity she has received from numerous popular media outlets have led to her become a prominent figure in the Public Sphere, inciting feminist conversations on a variety of media platforms. A challenge often faced by media professionals in the Public Sphere is a decline in natural conversation, however Gevinson has managed to incite the opposite (Nielsen, 2016). Her role as a media and cultural producer has enhanced her public feminist identity and allowed her to create a public space where she invites other girls to be political and well informed citizens in our society. She opened a discussion at the annual TED conference in May 2012 with her insightful speech titled, ‘A teen just trying to figure it out’ which has been viewed over 1.2 million times (TED, 2012). In this TED talk she explained that she had a “hard time finding strong, female, teenage role models, so [she] built a space where they can find each other (TED, 2013). Gevinson has created Rookie to be a space in which girls can seek advice on matters not commonly discussed such as rape culture, sexual harassment, queer issues, mental illness and other topics that simply would be avoided in other mainstream teen media. Despite this however, Rookie is a place where females are celebrated, embracing all aspects of womanhood and giving many girls reasons to work on themselves and become well informed members of society.
In order for Gevinson to start the feminism conversation online, she has had to challenge the traditional way in which the Fourth Estate manages and releases information. Prior to the internet age, most people relied on the news media to act as watch dogs to guard the rights of citizens and protect any exploitation or abuse of power. However, at the age of fifteen when Gevinson launched Rookie, she believed that the way younger women were represented in the media was not empowering or “honest to an audience of teenage girls that respected their intelligence.” Essentially, she has used the emerging landscape of the new ‘fifth estate’ which is a more decentralised and user generated method of spreading information to the public to gain visibility for the feminist movement (Clark, 2009). Although some would argue that she may not have directly contributed to the traditional Fourth Estate, I believe that her voice has had an impact on changing and adapting the core values that the fourth estate aims to protect in the first place. Gender equality is now a commonly raised topic on the radio and on television, and although Gevinson is not solely responsible for this, she has had an influence on it.
Ultimately, Gevinson is not just an exceptional media professional, but is a generational spokeswoman. She has empowered not only myself but millions of other young women to use our voices and be well informed citizens in society. She has embraced media trends, adapted to the ever changing global market and has provided the platform for individuals to discuss feminism in the Public Sphere. She has made remarkable progress in changing the way younger women are portrayed in the media and as a society we can all look forward to where this industry will progress to in the future.