Steve Koepp, editor and founder, The BridgeAs the Brooklyn business-news site marks its first year, the editor reflects on a changing borough
“You can live in a place and really not know it as well as you think you might,” Steve Koepp mused about Brooklyn as he recalled the founding, the present and the future of The Bridge. The site is one year old today, so we figured it was time to feature the founder of the site that hosts our podcast.
The Bridge focuses on the borough’s business news, in all its diversity. “Each business is so specialized,” Koepp pointed out, “it’s like you’re going into a different country with a different language every time.”
Koepp left Wisconsin for New York City just two years out of college and started out as a business reporter for Time. He had wanted to be a writer from early on, saying in the interview that writing “is almost like carrying around a license to indulge your own curiosity,” giving access to “all sorts of things you couldn’t do in other walks.” As business editor at Time, Koepp handled cover stories on corporate raiders and big companies like the Walt Disney Co. Later he served as the deputy editor of Time and executive editor of Fortune, supervising their websites.
In February 2017, Koepp launched the next step in his career, one that brought his professional focus to Brooklyn, where he and his family have lived for many years. “I had been covering national and international things my whole career and I wanted to go hyper-local.” Brooklyn, he said, “seemed to be blossoming into its own place, not just a satellite of Manhattan, but its own community with all its own parts,” including major cultural and community organizations.
Who does The Bridge serve? Koepp said he noticed that many business people in Brooklyn operate within their own virtual silo. “They know their own business–let’s say it’s tech startups–but those people don’t really know the folks who are building skyscrapers all over the place. But it’s helpful [to learn about them], because sometimes the two meet. For example, in real-estate technology, you’re working on things that manage these buildings going up.”
Koepp and his team of writers are committed to covering a broad range of subjects around Brooklyn, including the borough’s growing pains. Some of the site’s most-viewed articles have been on gentrification, focusing on the tension between economic development and neighborhood preservation. “There is this battle between growth on the one hand, and gentrification–or pushing out–on the other,” he said. “I am sympathetic to both arguments” in such debates, he said, the challenge being how to have economic growth “in ways that don’t negatively impact the community.”
“I think it’s really interesting, the crossroads between old Brooklyn and new Brooklyn, and north Brooklyn and south Brooklyn,” he added. “And connecting these Brooklyns that might not meet is a real useful thing to do. Bridging those gaps–hence the name–is one of the missions.”–By Kora Feder