DorobekInsider: New hires at Government Executive/NextGov… Sternstein… and Matt Dunie

Friday - 4/3/2009, 2:58pm EDT

In a time when many print publications are struggling, Government Executive, and its IT focused sister Web site, NextGov, seem to be investing. NextGov has hired Aliya Sternstein as a reporter. I am president of the Sternstein fan club, particularly given that I hired her into the government market when I was at Federal Computer Week. Sternstein left FCW to join National Journal’s now defunct Tech Daily, then moved to Congressional Quarterly. Sternstein is a quiet but incredibly tenacious reporter — she is one of those reporters who gets a story in her teeth and just won’t let it go. And she is a incredibly hard worker — I would often get 11p e-mails from her about various issues. It is a great hire — and it is great to see publications able to invest.

The other big change was announced last month — Atlantic Media, the parent company of Government Executive, has hired Matt Dunie as General Manager of the Government Executive Media Group. I have posted the release below. Dunie officially started at Government Executive on this week.

The move has spurred some questions around the government publishing world, in part because it seems that Government Executive President and Group Publisher Steve Vito reports to Dunie. Vito is widely respected in both government and publishing circles. He has really crafted Government Executive into a significant player in the government trade press, particularly up against the creation of the 1105 Government Information Group, which was formed after FCW’s parent company, 1105 Media, purchased the properties of the former Post Newsweek Tech Media, creating a government IT publishing Goliath. Vito is widely credited with keeping GovExec very agile. Government Executive magazine, for example, gets a healthy amount of IT advertising despite the fact that the magazine hasn’t, historically, covered IT. He then went on to create NextGov, focusing on government IT specifically and led by Allan Holmes, the respected former editor in chief of Federal Computer Week.

Vito is also credited with getting GovExec to change its focus from a print-centric focused group to a media focused group. Government Executive magazine has wisely reduced frequency of its magazine and shifted resources into its online properties, where there is growth.

Vito is also credited with getting GovExec to change its focus from a print-centric focused group to a media focused group. Government Executive magazine has wisely reduced frequency of its magazine and shifted resources into its online properties, where there is growth.

The part of the release that raised some eyebrows:

Government Executive President and Publisher Steven M. Vito will continue in his current position, managing core product lines. He will report to Dunie.

There is some question about what Dunie’s role at GovExec will be.

People in publishing circles had also been speculated that Vito might be a candidate for the 1105 GovInfo group publisher post, most recently held by Evilee Ebb. UPDATE 04.05.2009: I didn’t mention this and I should have: I asked Vito specifically about this and he says it just isn’t true. So this seems more like fun speculation to me.

David Bradley, chairman of Atlantic Media Company, was believed to be shopping Government Executive around last year, but most people believe Bradley has decided to keep theGovExec group. But hiring new people such as Sternstein would be an indication that he has decided to keep the publication — and invest in it.

Dunie doesn’t have experience in the government market — he most recently was the president of Cambridge Scientific Abstracts — and many people take Bradley at his word from theDunie release: “I have been thinking for some time of recruiting an executive to expand our efforts in the business-to-business sector.” Literally, everybody is looking for new and different revenue models right now. (The challenge for publishers is that most of the revenue is based on print, which isstagnant at the very best, but Web advertising simply doesn’t pay the bills. The consensus these days is that publishing is simply between business models — the old, industrial age model is on its way out and the new model hasn’t yet evolved — but everybody is trying to figure it out. And that is as true in the trade press as anywhere else.)

I look forward to meeting Mr. Dunie… and — welcome to the government market.

Tags: Industry, press