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FCW's Power Players: Too close to home?

So with this week's issue, we publish FCW's 2007 Power Players. As we say in the introduction to the story, this is the list of people who are the influencers -- the deciders, if you will -- for the government IT community.

We acknowledge up front that this is a subjective process, but we hope that the list provides some insight about the government IT community’s priorities and issues.

The most controversial people on the list so far are Armstrong is president and group publisher of 1105 Government Information Group, and Vitale is president and chief executive officer of 1105 Media, number 10 on our top 10 list.

I let Armstrong know on Friday evening.

Then this morning, I got this message from a former government official:

While I agree they are power players and are doing a great job in combining the businesses, I find it amazing that you named Anne and Neal. I guess I should look for a puff piece on Murdoch in the WSJ?

Unfortunately the 1105 Government Information Group editorial team was at an off-site today, so I could only reply by my BlackBerry, so it had to be short and sweet, but...

My response:

... We certainly knew it would be controversial, but are you arguing that the combination of FCW, GCN, Washington Technology, and FOSE does NOT make them pretty powerful?

And the response back:

I think they are definitely powerful! And, as you know, I like controversy, and in fact often subscribe to the Brendan Behan adage, "There is no such thing as bad publicity . . . ." [He added ". . . except your own obituary."!] I just wonder if, even with the disclaimers in the articles, the inclusion undermines your reputation as an objective news source.

Now that I'm away from my BlackBerry, I think this does deserve further discussion.

Frankly, the decision was controversial, even among FCW editors. And, as inferred in the write-up about Armstrong and Vitale, the purchase by 1105 Media of PostNewsweek is a big step for government IT media. Frankly, I think ignoring that purchase would have been ignoring a significant development in this community. If National Journal's Government Executive had bought PostNewsweek, we probably would have put somebody over there on the list.

Yes, the list is subjective. I'll say it again. This is not some prize that is awarded. And I don't think objectivity requires that we necessarily pull ourself out of covering this market. The publications that cover this market -- all of them -- are a part of the government IT market. And we concluded that this buy does say something about the government IT market. Frankly, we're not sure yet. We may not know for years. But certainly it says something.

Part of our objectivity is that we state -- up front -- that 1105 Media is our parent company. We address the inherent conflict. But the writer seems to agree with the contention that the merger does matter, but just thinks that we should not have written about it. If that were true, then we would have lost our objectivity.

I want to stress that we do not suggest that we have cornered the market on wisdom, and we are not arguing that this list comes down from Mount Olympus. In part, it is meant to spur a discussion -- precisely this kind of discussion. Maybe the trade press are irrelevant in this market. Maybe they -- we -- just don't matter. Maybe it doesn't mean anything that the three major IT publications and the big government IT trade show are now all under one roof. And perhaps we are just too close to the situation. If that is true, I welcome your thoughts at [email protected].

But I think it is a discussion worth having.

Posted on Oct 15, 2007 at 12:17 PM


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