Jane Pratt returns to publishing

In the 1990s, alternative was king, we all experimented with Manic Panic hair dye, Doc Martens and striped tights, and we all read Sassy magazine.

The glossy pages aimed at teenage girls was empowering to a new set of confident young women who knew that they could be anything they wanted.

Founding Editor-in-chief Jane Pratt was a bastion of successful indie-cool and most likely forged my own most humble desires to be a writer and journalist. Sassy also created two very important precursors to today’s interactive citizen journalism: the annual readers issue, a yearly endeavor where Sassy staff stayed out of the editorial decision-making, and Zine of the month, the first mainstream light on the underground world of old school “paper blogs.”

The world has changed a lot in two decades. But what hasn’t changed is the desire for teenage girls to have a voice and to see themselves represented in a way that is not all about Gossip Girl and Justin Bieber squealing. So Jane Pratt is back, and she’s bringing a real live teenage girl writer with her. Fourteen year old style blog wunderkind Tavi Gevinson, who has been penning her own musings online since 2008 when she was 11, wrote that she will be teaming up with Pratt in the as-yet-unnamed Sassy 2.0:

You guys may know how I feel about Sassy. You also may know that I’ve been babbling about how I think our generation should get one, too. Jane Pratt, founding editor and then EIC of Sassy, also became aware, and emailed me, and we’ve met a couple times, and it looks like we’re going to start a magazine for an audience of wallflowerly teenage girls.

(I am trying so hard to be cool and professional right now.)

(Trying. so. hard.)

Of course, it won’t be Sassy (or the rebirth of Sassy, or Sassy 2.0) and nor do we want it to be. For one, you can’t try to recreate something that good. For another, while I can read old issues of Sassy and relate, the world has changed a bit in the past 15 or so years, and that whole Internet thing happened, and this world calls for something different.

The magazine is supposed to have a masthead by the end of the month with plans to launch a website in the spring and an initial issue Fall 2011.

While I’m inclined towards big excitement, both to see a new generation of powerful young women as well as reveling in the nostalgia of my own youth, I understand the waryness of Bitch magazine founder and early Sassy devotee Andi Zeisler.

…when Pratt perpetrated the extended celebrity ass-snuggling that was Jane magazine, we kind of lost our faith in her. As one of said founders and still a diehard magazine geek, and who furthermore is a fan of Gevinson’s smart, precocious feminist fashion blogging, I’m psyched. But at the risk of peeing in people’s Cheerios, I’m also curious: Does anyone else find Pratt’s involvement in this news a little creepy?

She raises the point that while it may sound exciting to give Gevinson some more marketing backing what she has created is perhaps already better than anything that Pratt could step in to help with. Does this new generation need a glossy rag with polish and a famous Editor at its helm or is it the age when an 11-year-old can set up her own blog and have complete editorial control and an infinite amount of reader feedback already built in to the 21st century technology?

It’s also worth noting that both Sassy and Jane were fairly queer-inclusive, more than other women’s magazines, and Jane, herself, isn’t super-straight — she once dated Drew Barrymore.

How do you feel about Jane’s return to the publishing industry?

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