10 Questions with PC Mag's Alice Newcome-Beill
Hi! Alice Newcome-Beill here, CUNY Brooklyn College alumnus after a brief stint at community college in Pennsylvania. When I’m not organizing labor movements or otherwise rousing the rabble, I consider myself an amateur cyclist and connoisseur of the digital realm. If I wasn’t in my current field I would likely be cooking or in some type of craft-based industry. I’ve always found working with my hands on projects with tangible results to be incredibly rewarding, if brutal — which is how I found myself among my fellow titans of journalism and working together for positive change.
1. What is your role at PC Mag? What does that entail?
My current role at PCMag is that of “Inventory Control Coordinator,” which is an obtuse way of saying that I handle the logistics of all the physical products that get tested in our offices. Beyond that I also get involved in various organizational efforts around the office (physical, not political). Occasionally I contribute a product review byline.
2. You were on the organizing committee for Ziff Davis. Why was it important to unionize there in particular?
Unionizing at Ziff Davis was long overdue in my opinion. Seeing so many of my coworkers leave during my relatively brief employment with the company wasn’t just discouraging, but frankly disappointing. A publisher as prolific as Ziff Davis deserves to have it’s employees represented in a fair and respectful way. But too often our talent was left unrecognized and our complaints unaddressed.
3. How have you seen you workplace transform as part of the unionizing process?
Since going public with the union, there has been some modest, unspoken animosity in the office from management. However, I feel that the unionization effort has rekindled a camaraderie that has been absent in the office for far too long.
4. How have you seen the industry shift from your perspective?
The media industry has shifted pretty significantly, and while many skills remain applicable, many journalists are going to be forced to add additional skills and expertise to their repertoire to remain relevant.
5. What aspect of the media industry most surprised you or you were totally unprepared for?
The most surprising aspect of this industry that I was totally unprepared for was how important social media and building a personal brand can be. For better or worse, building and leveraging a following on a variety of platforms is becoming an increasingly important factor for employers.
6. We’re seeing an increase in unionization across both the media and gaming industries. Have you noticed any similarities in what we’re workers are demanding?
The increase in unionization efforts across the media industry seems to be tied mostly for a desire for a stability. We’ve all been privy to how unfortunately mercenary this industry can be, whether through subsidizing full-time staff with armies of “perma-lance” employees to the clear-cutting of entire newsrooms. The fluidity of most media outlets make it nearly impossible for its employees to plan for the future. While it’s certainly not the only reason, this appetite for stability is definitely serving as the catalyst for organinzing for many of these shops.
7. How did it feel to get voluntary recognition after an incredible or organizing campaign at Ziff Davis?
The voluntary recognition of our union by Ziff Davis definitely came as a surprise. By all accounts I was preparing myself mentally and physically to have to go to an election. But the formation and recognition of our union voluntarily is easily one of the largest projects I’ve been a part of, and I think that it speaks volumes to our strength as a unit to be voluntarily recognized. I’m proud to be working with my peers to collectively fix the problems in our newsroom.
8. The union spans four publications, how did you bring everyone together to form a united front?
Forming a united front with our various publications was one of the more difficult parts of our organization. While many of our initial members were already very familiar with each other, reaching out to the people outside of our respective silos proved to be tougher than we anticipated. Overcoming the apparent awkwardness with anyone you wouldn’t normally talk to in the workplace can be tough. But, once we broke through that initial anxiety, we often found being candid and straightforward with our potential members solicited the best reactions.
9. You coordinate all the products that PC Mag and Mashable review. What has been the weirdest (or you more favorite) product to come through the newsroom?
My role has the benefit of exposing me to a lot of cool, new, and often strange technology. One of the stranger pieces to come through our doors was an automated roti maker, or maybe the twerking robot? But if we’re talking about something actually useful, just about anything with wireless charging manages to amaze me with just how quickly it became an irreplaceable part of my technological entourage.
10. Any advice for those thinking of organizing?
Do your best to introduce yourself to as many people in your workplace as possible, especially people you normally would never associate with. Besides the obvious efforts to be friendly, that rapport will speak volumes when the time comes to organize.
Share this story