Medcitynews CEO (and EIU journalism alum) talks about journalism and how it’s changed
By Leon Fields
“When I left (EIU) I dreamed of being the Washington correspondent for a major daily or running one of those papers. Things just changed so much,” said Chris Seper, CEO of Medcitynews.
Seper, an EIU journalism graduate, leads one of the fastest-growing sites in healthcare and life sciences. The site explains its mission as offering “insight into what’s next and what matters with a mix of breaking news and analysis on startups and established industry leaders, personalities, policies and the most important deals.”
Seper attended Eastern Illinois University from 1991 to 1995 and was a double major in journalism and political science. He earned a master’s degree in political science in 1997.
Seper’s bio on medcity notes that he “drives the culture, oversees business and editorial directions, and manages the governance of the company.” He said when he began college, being the CEO of his own website was his dream job.
The EIU grad said he always had a passion for writing, which is why he became a journalism major – he wanted to work or run a newspaper company. “I was having a talk once with the editor in chief of The Plain Dealer. The chief said, ‘I understand you want to run this newspaper,’” Seper said. “No, I want to run whatever this becomes. That’s when I knew things had changed for me.”
Before starting his website, Seper said that he needed financing. For a year he raised money from investors, landed a $30,000 grant and secured advertising from local companies. Seper and Medcity were recentlyfeatured on Newstex.
Seper, who had been online medical editor at The Plain Dealer, said he saw sites like TechCrunch, VentureBeat, Politico, GigaOm and others, and there was nothing like that in healthcare. “Here is where I figured out that everything is going digital and becoming an ‘online folk’ can lead to great things. This gave me the idea for Medcitynews.”
He said Eastern was the foundation for his new venture. “I credit classes like the media management class and comm law, plus the real-world atmosphere of the Daily Eastern News in making sure I understand every aspect of media and put me ahead when it came to the higher-level decision-making it would take to manage a change media world,” he said. “When I left college it was all print – the web came a few years later. But the lessons from EIU carried me through.”
Seper now enjoys life in Cleveland, Ohio, where Medcitynews is located. He also sits on the board of directors of The Civic Commons, a website where active citizens discuss current topics and civic engagement.
“People will tell you this is a hard time for media. And it is in terms of the change that’s going on,” Seper said. “But, really, this is the greatest time to be in journalism. You can join a traditional pub or you can start your own. You need passion and to remember you’re doing a ‘job’ for the people you’re writing for. It can take you a long way.”