Jeremy Zilar is the Content Strategist and Blog Specialist at The New York Times where he has overseen the launch of over 200+ blogs and real-time news publishing.
Over the last 30 days, I have been very fortunate to play a part in the realization of a remarkable project by the 15-year-old style blogger Tavi Gevinson.
The new project, titled ‘ROOKIE,’ is imagined as a hybrid between a magazine and a blog and will publish 3 times a day — once after school, once at dinner time, and once before bed. Tavi explains it like this:
Rookie is not your guide to being a Teen. It is not a pamphlet on How to Be a Young Woman. (If it were, it would be published by American Girl and your aunt would’ve given it to you in the fifth grade.) It is, quite simply, a bunch of writing and art we like and believe in. While there’s always danger in generalizing a whole group of people, I do think some experiences are somewhat universal to being a teenager, specifically a female one. Rookie is a place to make the best of the beautiful pain and cringe-worthy awkwardness of being an adolescent girl. When it becomes harder to appreciate these things, we also have good plain fun and visual pleasure. When you’re sick of having to be happy all the time, we have lots of eye-rolling rants, too.
Working with Tavi has been really amazing. She is more put together than most editors twice her age. She has an amazing ability to think multiple steps out in a project and play out various editorial, production, and communication scenarios. She knows the nuances that come with every mode of communication. And most importantly, she knows how to say ‘No’ with grace and re-direct an idea towards her vision. These qualities are made all the more exceptional by the fact that she is only 15. Most people three times her age in her industry have yet to grasp all of these talents in as genuine a way as she has.
Tavi’s vision for the site and what it could become drove many characters to take part in making Rookie a reality, in under 30 days.
- Anaheed Alani is a former fact checker for The New York Times Magazine. She has been tirelessly editing works by teenagers for teenagers for months and there is no better person for this role than her.
- Emily Condon was the office manager at This American Life up until a month ago when she took a temporary leave to help get Rookie off the ground. It is safe to say that Emily has had the world’s fastest crash course in the business of online publishing. She is going to be a very powerful woman in media, if she is not already.
- Rookie was godfathered along by Ira Glass. His e-mail original e-mail to me with the subject line ‘Tavi Gevinson’ started off like this: “I’m writing you with a business-related question. Not for my business, but for a teenager’s.” I said yes in my mind before reading any further. Ira is married to Anaheed.
- Rookie was fortunate enough to have Choire Sicha and John Shankman from The Awl helping them navigate the complicated world of ad sales, and eventually enlisted New York Media to handle that end of the site.
- The real father and guardian behind all of this is Tavi’s father and manager, Steve Gevinson. The first weekend that I started talking to this crew, Steve and I talked on the phone for a few hours while I reassured him that I would be able to find the best people in New York to design and build the site, even though I wasn’t 100% sure I would be able to.
- Rookie was designed by the amazing and tireless Renda Morton and Zack Seuberling at Rumors. Renda helps run one of the better design studios in New York and has amazing people skills. The two of them were really the right people, both in character and and talent for the job.
- The site is hosted on Happy Cog Hosting.