Journalist corner: Bruce Meechan, Freelance Journalist

Picture of Taylor Alden

Taylor Alden

Pictured is Bruce Meechan.

I get the impression that media studies courses should concentrate more on the use of good English.  Newspapers and the broadcast media in particular should resist using ‘Americanisms’ such as referring to concrete as ‘cement’.
Taylor Alden has been working with Bruce Meechan for many years. He is incredibly knowledgeable about “building” and knows how to create an interesting and technical case study from very little information. We often receive compliments from our clients on Bruce’s ability to ask the right questions!
How did you get into journalism? Was this always the career you wanted?
I was a civil engineer until a neurological condition left me with limited peripheral vision.  Technical journalism was one of possible avenues of work where I could use my construction knowledge – suggested by an RNIB careers advisor.  I had always liked writing and had helped on school newspapers, but never previously considered it as a career. 
What titles have you written for? 
I started freelancing for Building Refurbishment (now closed) and Building Design in 1986 and expanded to titles like Building, National Builder, ABC&D and Individual Homes, as well as other titles. I also worked for a number of PR companies in the sector, then was made Editor of Housing Association when it launched in 1998; together with the publisher’s Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) which launched two years later. Nowadays, I mainly write for PR agencies with building clients.
What does a typical day look like for you? 
I check my emails first thing and then try to contact interviewees by phone and email to harvest information for case studies and technical articles. I waste far more time on this since the pandemic as so many professionals avoid the office and ignore anyone not pertinent to their own workload!! Gripe! I probably only write for four or five hours a day.
What is your biggest career highlight?
The two editorships and being invited to Canada for a week by the Government of Quebec to report on their offsite manufacturers. 
Have you had any “pinch me” moments?
In 1987, Building Design made me freelance Products Editor and I was paid £30 for attending press launches, mainly held in flash London restaurants or hotels. I had been earning two quid or less, per day, as a labourer the previous year. I managed three events between noon and 9pm one day, finishing off with a snooker themed event at the Matchroom in Essex. Anyone who says there is “no such thing as a free lunch” knows nothing about journalism.  
Looking back at your career path, is there anything you would do different?
I can’t think of anything in particular. Although there have been some excruciatingly embarrassing typos that have made it into print.
Do you have a certain process when you receive a brief?
Like an exam paper, read it carefully and if you think you need clarification, seek it immediately.
Do you have any particular goals for the rest of 2024 – career or personal?
To deal with the peaks competently and take more breaks away during the troughs.
When you were a child, what was your dream job?
To be an RAF fighter pilot like my father. Jack Meechan was a Hawker Typhoon pilot who fought in the North Africa campaign and with the Allied invasion of Europe, earning a DFC and other medals.  He went on to fly the early jet fighters, one of which he crashed in India.  Known as ‘Lucky Jack’, he survived six crashes between 1942-60 including going down in the Channel soon after D-Day, adding the Caterpillar and Goldfish badges to his ribbons.  Which is probably why I’ve never worried about flying.   
What is your dream title to write for? 
The Daily Telegraph, though I would also love to write a novel. Sadly I’m rubbish at scripting dialogue.