Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz have spent the past year helping to change the ratio of women to men in longform journalism.
Today, they’re publishing the second print issue of The Riveter, the magazine they created last year to highlight longform and narrative journalism written by women.
“Our first print issue came out almost a year ago, and since then we’ve built up a dynamic staff of editors and big-picture thinkers who have helped us secure a reliable online voice,” Demkiewicz said via email. “In producing weekly online content, we have broadened our audience and are able to prove that we ebb and flow with the surrounding media and culture.”
As part of The Riveter’s growth, Demkiewicz and Ralph have added new departments to diversify the magazine’s content, including one called “Longform as Lifestyle” and another called “Bedstand.”
“One new department speaks to our mission to promote longform as a lifestyle element on par with music, fashion, beauty, health, etc.,” Demkiewicz said.
“Longform as Lifestyle allows us to pair seemingly mundane lifestyle elements with really great texts. In Issue 02, Mary-Louise Parker pairs three drinks with three Sharon Olds poems. Bedstand is a new department that allows us to get nosy and step into the bedrooms of our favorite journalists. In Issue 02, we find out what Jonathan Gibbs and Matt Jakubowski, the two journalists who inspired Joanna Walsh’s #readwomen2014 campaign, are reading right before falling asleep.”
The Riveter regularly features innovative women who have spearheaded a variety of media projects, including Alana Levinson of the online culture magazine “Stevie Zine”; Misan Sagay of the film “Belle”; and Sarah Nicole Prickett and Berkely Poole of “Adult Magazine.”
In the second issue out today, “each story approaches and analyzes an issue often ignored in mainstream media,” Demkiewicz said. “Chicago Reporter photojournalist Sophia Nahli Allison reimagines ‘black life’ in her photo essay, ‘Redefining What We See.’ ESPN cricket correspondent Firdose Moonda offers a historical narrative about the Africanization of Johannesburg’s inner city and does not shy away from the xenophobia her country displayed after becoming a democracy. We’ve also got an exploratory science narrative on schizophrenia and a cultural critique on the way films portrays families of transgendered characters.”
The Riveter is one solution to a problem that the media industry has faced for quite some time: the lack of female voices in literary and journalistic publications. A recent study found that female bylines accounted for only one-third of New York Times bylines during the last quarter of 2013. VIDA’s annual look at gender diversity further outlines the disparity. The latest VIDA count found that in 2013:
- The New Republic had 81 female bylines, compared to 235 male bylines.
- The Atlantic had 61 female bylines, compared to 113 male bylines.
- The New Yorker had 176 female bylines, compared to 436 male bylines.
Figures like these have reminded Ralph and Demkiewicz of the need to create an opportunity for change. Ralph alluded to this need in a piece I wrote about her and Demkiewicz last year:
“We are both longform junkies, because we believe in the breadth of creativity, narrative, investigation, research, etc. allowed with this particular kind of storytelling,” she said at the time. “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.”
The latest issue of The Riveter is available for purchase through the magazine’s online store.
Mallary Tenore is the managing director of Images & Voices of Hope (ivoh), a nonprofit that strengthens the media’s role as an agent of positive change. She’s the former managing director of Poynter.org.