By: Nu Yang
Kaylen Ralph and Joanna Demkiewicz were students at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism when they started The Riveter, a magazine focused on longform journalism by women.
Demkiewicz said there were two incidents that sparked the idea: after they realized no woman writers had been nominated in the 2012 American Society of Magazine Editors’ National Magazine Awards and after they attended a university-sponsored writing workshop promoting a book called “Next Wave: America’s New Generation of Great Literary Journalists.” Demkiewicz said out of the 19 pieces of longform journalism featured in the collection, only three had been written by women.
Ralph and Demkiewicz responded by creating The Riveter. After graduating this past spring, the two friends, both 23, moved to Minneapolis, Minn. because of its literary community and made the city the magazine’s home.
In March, they introduced The Riveter online in order to build an audience. During that time, they raised $2,000 through crowdfunding. Ralph and Demkiewicz used the funds to pay writers and launched their first print issue in mid-July. Both print and digital editions are available for purchase. Demkiewicz said their goal is to secure longterm funding in order to turn their quarterly print product into a monthly publication.
Ralph and Demkiewicz see themselves as entrepreneurs—and don’t let their age fool you. “We have a lot of energy,” Demkiewicz said. “I feel like our generation is pretty innovative. If we see a problem we want to fix, we do it.”
The Riveter’s staff includes Ralph and Demkiewicz and creative director Theresa Berens. Demkiewicz said they are always accepting story pitches. They welcome submissions about anything and everything and writers are not limited to conventional female subjects. Ralph also encouraged writers to send in stories that explored alternative topics or experimented with disruptive narrative.
For example, The Riveter’s debut issue featured a personal expository essay about mental health. Ralph said it was written from the perspective of a woman who had a mother dealing with mental illness, but the writer also included some research into her story. “(The story) had a lot of different elements,” Ralph said. “There was research involved along with a personal narrative. It was a melding of genres.”
Demkiewicz added longform journalism would let them experiment with different genres, such as non-fiction, personal storytelling, creative essays and investigative pieces. “Our mission is to publish a magazine by women for everyone,” Demkiewicz said. “We want to promote women as universal storytellers.”
For more information, visit therivetermagazine.com.