Unfortunately for the most entrenched publications, like perennial “count” bottom-feeder the London Review of Books and to a lesser extent the New York Review of Books, their audience probably doesn’t match up with VIDA’s and they can continue to ignore the count. Still, their reputation as stuffy and male-dominated has probably now been cemented with younger readers, and future editors of these publications will probably have their work cut out for them.
As for the “larger literary landscape” of niche but respected literary magazines, which VIDA continues to survey, there’s no question many of these magazines are actually approaching equality year by year, with some fluctuations. Some magazines have led the way, and now others have followed. The field isn’t quite the sea of red with slivers of blue it once was.
When “The Count” first showed up, many people heralded the dawn of the VIDA era, while wondering whether merely counting would make any meaningful difference.
Clearly, for the magazines that care, it has made a huge one. It’s hard not to imagine even the most self-confident editor not being slightly haunted by the specter of those blue and red charts showing up each spring. And web culture has led the way in demanding change, too. When I began writing response posts to the VIDA count five years ago, most of my friends were low-level writers and editors. Now many of them have real heft at their publications in print and online and are working hard to bring new voices into the mix, because that value — diversity of perspective — has become a bigger one in journalistic and literary culture. We know real change is possible with some considerable effort, as the case of Tin House, and the TV host who tried to book 50% female guests, show us.