DorobekInsider: GovExec exec Matt Dunie exits… and media notes

Thursday - 10/15/2009, 8:26am EDT

Matt Dunie, who joined Government Executive as general manager back in April… and was then promoted to be president of the group over the Fourth of July week, has left the organization after only six months, the DorobekInsider has learned.

Details are sparse at the moment… and the departure has raised all kinds of questions… for example, why did Dunnie leave? What does this mean for Government Executive Media, which includes Government Executive magazine, GovExec.com and NextGov.com, the up-start government IT Web site. Government Executive, of course, is owned by David Bradley, the chairman of Atlantic Media Company. Bradley, of course, is extremely influential and is widely respected.

As I say, we don’t know much officially. Unlike when Dunie joined Government Executive last April or was promoted over the summer, there was no press release announcing his departure — or, frankly, who was taking over. In fact, Dunie’s bio is still listed among Atlantic Media’s leadership team on their Web site.

What people have been told is that Dunie was brought in to come up with a strategy for Government Executive — and that he did that and that he has a management team in place to carry out that strategy. Again, I don’t have anything to quote because there wasn’t even an internal e-mail sent around, I’m told.

That official cause seems to stretch credulity. With all due respect for Dunie’s skills — and I met with him several times and he seemed very smart — it seems difficult to believe that somebody with no prior experience in the government market was able to so alter Government Executive’s strategy in six months.

Dunie’s departure would seem to be good for Steve Vito, who was the leader at Government Executive. GovExec had left many people scratching their heads when Bradley hired Dunie as, essentially, Vito’s boss — and then Vito was shifted to a “strategic” role. Insiders say that Vito has told Bradley that he is not interested in going back in time. Vito currently works part-time for Government Executive.

So these changes could spur some changes within Government Executive — and, essentially, a new senior leadership team for the media organization.

They could, of course, put out a search to fill that post, but it is a very unique skill set. (Just ask the folks over at the 1105 Government Information Group, which went through an exhaustive search to find a group publisher before hiring Jennifer Weiss this summer.) There are only a handful of people who have a publishing background and have knowledge of this market, which is unique and takes a long time to know and learn.

And these are challenging times for publishers — even in this market. Government Executive seems unusually well positioned, thanks largely to decisions made by Vito who has made a conscience effort to reduce the organization’s dependence on print — and thereby have created new revenue streams from online, including creating NextGov, a whole Web site focusing on government technology. Yet publishers have to be very agile these days — and so it will be interesting to see who Bradley taps to lead Government Executive.

Eying Governing magazine

A few other publishing notes… First, apparently Atlantic Media/Government Executive have decided not to bid for Governing magazine. We told you about parts of the Governing story this earlier, but… Governing was owned by Congressional Quarterly. When The Economic Group’s Roll Call brought CQ, they did not buy Governing, a somewhat sleepy publication that covers the government state and local market. And so… Governing has been shopped around. Word is that Atlantic Media/Government Executive have decided that… well, the price wasn’t right. It is unclear who else might be bidding — Neal Vitale of 1105 Media is believe to be interested and, in fact, sent 1105 staff an e-mail recently saying that despite 20 percent salary cuts, the company could still buy properties — if the price is right. The question: Is the price right? Vitale is known for seeking good deals, but we hear there is a steep price tag on a publication that doesn’t make much money. That being said, 1105 has been interested in having a foothold in the government state and local market, which is overwhelmingly dominated by eRepublic’s Government Technology. But if 1105 were to buy Governing, they could make a cogent argument that they are the most efficient way to reach the government market — at all levels.

Frankly, I haven’t heard about other bidders.

Editor’s note: Post updated to correct the spelling of Matt Dunie’s name.

Tags: press