The education of a technology editor can take many forms. One of them is meeting the right people, as I’ve been fortunate enough to do during the past year — my first as both editor and employee of this storied news organization. The incredibly smart and generous men and women who populate the government information technology world are a wonder to observe and interact with, and they have taught me a lot.
Another training ground is this very publication. Ever since I turned in my reporter’s notebook for a red pen years ago, I’ve always felt that the real thrill of being an editor stems from being the first person who gets to read a story before it goes into the magazine for publication. It’s a privilege, really, to get that early, exclusive look at a good writer’s handiwork.
And in putting together this last issue of Federal Computer Week for 2009, I was able to see how much I have learned and absorbed from the inestimable team of editors and reporters who occupy the newsroom that I first encountered about this time last year. The technology savvy here is abundant, to be sure. But here, too, as in the government IT community at large, resides a generosity of spirit and intellect that fosters a culture of collaboration. The best journalists, after all, want you to know what they know, and that’s certainly the operative mindset here.
Some of the things I’ve gleaned? Well, the reach and consequence of federal procurement policy, for one. Acquisition editor Matthew Weigelt began reporting on the Obama administration’s procurement reform agenda from the moment he took office in January. His cover story for March 9, in which he outlined the new administration’s 180-degree turnaround from the previous Republican proclivity for outsourcing and sole-source contracts, served notice (not just to me, I think) that this was a story to watch. I’m hooked on it now.
The Obama administration’s big experiment with online public engagement, called the Open Government Initiative, coincided with our own experiments in inviting online users to comment on our stories and contribute commentary articles. John Stein Monroe, who oversees user-generated content for us, has managed both to raise important issues on the larger story (Cover Story, July 13) and navigate the often heated discourse that follows.
Ben Bain’s coverage of cybersecurity, Alice Lipowicz's on health IT and electronic health records, Doug Beizer's on social media and Government 2.0 (this week’s Cover Story), and Amber Corrin's on defense IT have identified the pivotal issues on those beats. And features editor John Zyskowski, who makes it his business to stay abreast of all the latest IT trends, also knows when and where those trends might matter in government settings.
Throughout the past year, I’ve been their most avid reader. I’ve learned a lot from them. What they’ve taught us all, I trust, will remain worthy of your continued investment of time and interest.
David Rapp is editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week and VP of content for 1105 Government Information Group.