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Featured Stakeholder Series with Sean Baker
The Med City Beat started in 2014 and has grown to be one of Rochester's go-to media outlets. Capturing over 14,000 loyal followers through Facebook by producing breaking news, community stories, opinion pieces, and everything in between. If you haven't already, it's time for you to meet Sean Baker, the man behind it all. See Sean's answers below on all things Downtown Rochester.
What is your favorite thing about Rochester?
It has to be the energy of bringing so many different types of people together in one place. Rochester, for a city of its size, has an incredible amount of diversity. People move here from all across the country, all across the world, and bring their ideas and cultures with them. Downtown, whether it be inside the walls of Mayo Clinic or in the coffee shops and pubs, often serves as a melting pot for these folks. Just spend a moment or two sitting down on a bench at Peace Plaza and you will be humbled by the people you meet.
What do you think is the best kept secret about Downtown?
We all know about the rich history of medical care and innovation happening here, but I am constantly surprised — and encouraged — by the amount of talent that exists locally in other industries. Look no further than the artists putting on exhibits at Gallery 24 or the entrepreneurs bringing new ideas to life inside the Vault or Collider. People in this town are beginning to really seize the moment and put themselves out there. And the best part, I think they are starting to find the support they need to be successful.
What do you think the biggest change will be to Downtown in the next 20 years and what do you look forward to most?
We are going to start seeing more and more people living Downtown. There is no doubt about that. Hundreds of new apartments, condos and senior living units are either being proposed or already under construction. This has the potential to make Downtown an even more vibrant place — one where locals feel empowered to be part of the change taking place here. Of course, the key will be to ensure Downtown remains inclusive and that we don’t leave anyone behind as we pursue our greatest ambitions.
Why did you start the company? What inspired you?
At risk of sounding cliché, I believe in the power of journalism to be a force of good in the community. On the Med City Beat, we try to be as responsive as possible to the needs of our readers. Sometimes, that means staying up late and covering a city council meeting. Other times, it means giving a spotlight to a nonprofit that deserves the recognition. Whatever we are working on, we keep our readers in mind. I want this to be a platform that not only provides honest and insightful reporting, but one that gives a voice to everyone in the community.
What has been your most memorable moment(s) since going into business?
That is a tough question. I have had the privilege to interview so many incredible people right here in Rochester. To me, there is nothing more rewarding than sharing stories that might otherwise might go untold. But if I had to pick just one, I would say there was no experience quite like playing the carillon above the Plummer Building.
Why is it important to you to be operating from Downtown Rochester?
Being Downtown means being at the center of it all. As a reporter, this is critical. Have an interview with the city administrator? That’s right across the river. A meeting with an event organizer at Café Steam? That’s just a block over. Plus, I like that anytime I leave the office I have the chance of running into my next story idea.
Is there something that would surprise people about your business?
For those who might not know, Med City Beat got its start through a Kickstarter. At the time I launched the crowdfunding campaign, the site had only been up for a few months and had a small following. To be frank, I’m not sure if I would have been able to continue if the campaign was not successful. But about 100 people in the community — most of whom I did not know at the time — supported my vision and I was able to raise $10,000. Today the site reaches more than 30,000 unique readers each month and has become my full-time job. Without that early encouragement, I would never have been able take this as far as I have.
Anything else you would like to include?
I would like to add that the success of Med City Beat has really been a collaborative effort. Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to work with dozens of talented writers, photographers and students. It is because of their contributions that the site has been able to reach as many people as it has.