What You Need to Know to Manage a Publication: Meet Alec Meeker
Alec is the owner and CEO of Bushwick Daily, an independent, hyperlocal news website that covers Bushwick, East Williamsburg, and Ridgewood in Brooklyn, New York. He moved from Pennsylvania to Bed-Stuy two years ago and was a programmer before moving to Bushwick and taking the leap to start his company in February.
Prosper: How did you decide to become a publisher?
Alec: [Before moving to New York] I was working a corporate job for two years at a Fortune 500 company. I had a meeting with the CIO of the company… He was doing a lot of introspection at the time… we talked about life choices, he was looking back and I was looking forward. The main takeaway of what we talked about was [that] he was the pinnacle of what someone could do in their career. He was successful, extremely smart, had done everything right. The takeaway was that that didn’t lead to the most fulfilling outcomes. To take more risks even if you do everything right in your field… there needs to be a little bit more soul in what you do. So I thought about it and decided to take a more earnest [route], and here I am now.
Prosper: Why did you choose Bushwick in Brooklyn?
Alec: I found that Bushwick… had a really amazing community and the people here were all doing very extraordinary things in ways that were really interesting to me. When I moved to Bushwick, I used Bushwick Daily as a resource and saw the value and so when the opportunity to arose, I took advantage of it.
Prosper: Did you feel that making the shift from a technical background to journalism was challenging?
Alec: I would say no. It’s all very challenging… But the core of what I’ve been doing has always been to solve problems and improve process. Whether or not I’m doing a good job of that, we’ll see. It’s always been the challenge that I have liked solving. Getting people to collaborate and work in a way that works best for whatever project we’re working on. In Bushwick, that means covering the most people, doing balance coverage of all the different areas [and culture] of the neighborhood.
Shedding Light On The Neighborhood
Prosper: What motivates you to do what you do now?
Alec: I think it’s an extremely important task to make sure that neighborhood coverage is accurate and reflects the broad spectrum of people and things that are happening in the neighborhood… People’s opinions can be changed best when it’s tangible, when they see things and learn from something that’s right in front of them rather than somebody tells them something on CNN or on a much larger scale. So if you’re reporting on something that’s in the neighborhood and a person can walk down the street and see this going on then I believe that’s important. That can affect change. Often large publications will go to into the neighborhood and cover an interesting restaurant, adding depth through writing and reporting [which] is a big motivator for me. Angely Mercado [Managing Editor of the Bushwick Daily] helped educate me on a lot of these things and has made the importance even more apparent to me.
What It Takes To Thrive in Journalism
Prosper: What skills do you need to have to do the work that you do?
Alec: Communication is probably the number one most important skill. Making sure that [I’m] constantly in contact with Angely and the writers, our advertising partners and corporate partnerships as well as engaging with the community and making sure what we’re doing is relevant to the community… But also managing a budget and some of the boring things. The finances and the nitty gritty. Most importantly, [Bushwick Daily] can exist without finances, but you wouldn’t last very long if you couldn’t speak with people and engage.
Prosper: Do you have any advice or tips for anyone interested in pursuing something similar to what you’re doing?
Alec: If you’re pursuing journalism or anything in the news field, you have to understand… the industry is in a crisis right now so it’s not an industry that you should get into if you want to get rich or anything like that. You really have to care about people or people’s story and have a passion for educating and telling stories.
Prosper: Describe a typical day in your life.
Alec: Usually, I wake up around 8. My day usually starts and ends with emails, most of the day is responding to and working with emails. Angely and I meet up most days [at Prosper Gowork]… it’s a good place to collaborate and work with each other, and have an opportunity to interface directly whereas a lot of the other contributors at Bushwick Daily are freelancers. We usually meet up here at some point of the day and get some work done. Angely is corralling writers and I’m usually working with one of our sponsors or corporate partners. That usually is mid-day. Most of the day schemes out and [I’m] making sure that everything’s going alright and we’re heading in the right direction.
Prosper: Do you feel that you are fulfilled now?
Alec: Yeah, I feel good. I am more fulfilled.
Check out Bushwick Daily at https://bushwickdaily.com/