Focusing on six words: Helping government do its job better

Posts Tagged ‘Dorobek

An introduction to the

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Who says nothing happens in August. There was all sorts of stuff going on during the Dog Days:

  • The seemingly never ending election season continues with each parties respective conventions and the full presidential tickets were completed.
  • A hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast.
  • Earlier in the month, an almost hurricane once again threatened the LandWarNet conference down in Florida — again.
  • And then, of course, there was the amazing Michael Phelps.
  • … and, after nine years, I left Federal Computer Week.

OK — you tell me which one doesn’t fit?

I can’t speak first hand about the other events, but I can talk about my departure from FCW and the creation of this blog.

When all was said and done, my departure from FCW happened very quickly. (Federal Computer Week editors made my departure the magazine’s “Buzz of the Week” for the week — and perhaps that is a sure sign that, in fact, there was not much going on in August. The write-up also made me sounds… well, somewhat tabloid, but I’m told that any press is good press. I’m not sure I buy that, but… Editors, by their nature, edit — and editors edit pretty much everything. I was shocked how much my reading speed slowed when I became an editor because I would read books and start editing them. And then, when you read something about yourself, there is an almost overwhelming desire to edit.)

Why did I leave?

Well, when I announced my departure from Federal Computer Week, there were two reasons. One, of course, is a remarkable opportunity to try something new: radio. As I mentioned, starting September 15, I will be the co-anchor of the Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, which will air from 3-7 pm ET on Federal News Radio (in DC at 1500 AM and online at Federal News Radio’s parent company, Bonneville Communications, took a risk on growing the station from a small outpost on a tiny AM frequency to a powerful DC frequency, and they thereby expand the station’s reach and coverage. The Daily Debrief is also expanding to four hours from its previous two hour slot. The company is also taking a risk on putting a print guy on the radio. I have a lot to learn in the weeks and months ahead, but… I’m looking forward to the experience.

The other reason for deciding to leave is that I wanted to grow something that I could call my own. This blog is the start of that idea.

The publishing business has changed so much in recent years, like so many businesses. Look at how the government market has changed in the past decade. But the changes in publishing have been truly revolutionary. Today, the printing presses have been democratized to a point that just about anybody can become a journalist. (That being said, it did take me some time to get this site up and running, but that was more of my own focus issues — there was a lot of stuff going on.) That doesn’t mean that everybody who has a blog actually is a journalist, but… anybody can be a journalist.

And I watched over the past several years as the innovative Huffington Post, started by Arianna Huffington, developed from a mere blog into… well, something more. (The NYT recently did an interesting story about the evolution of the Huffington Post.)

Then, over the last few years, I have tried to develop’s FCW Insider into something more.

So what will the be? Essentially, at least at the start, it will be something similar to what the FCW Insider was — a place to talk about the issues confronting government… a place to provide news, insights, and analysis. But beyond that, part of what I want to do is build community. After all, anybody who works with government understand that this is a community. As editor of Federal Computer Week, it reinforced how important it is to have a publication that covers that community. I tried to do that at FCW and with the FCW Insider. And I will continue to do that here — reporting on community events ranging from community gatherings and events, as much as I can.

I believe that publications are an important — almost essential — part of community. (And publications can be in print or online.) The government community is actually very lucky to have a wide variety of really good publications. There are, of course, the suite of pubs from the 1105 Government Information Group, my former home. As you might imagine, I’m partial to Federal Computer Week, but… my former colleagues are some of the best and the brightest in the business and they are working very hard to cover this market. They also have years of experience covering government and IT. But this community is blessed by a number of really good pubs: Government Executive, which has really done a remarkable job growing online, developing NextGov to cover government IT… and the venerable Federal Times… and, of course, there is the Washington Post’s Federal Dairy.

But one of the things that a publication offers is something of an unbridled look at the community itself. Too often, a community can become too focused on themselves, almost evolving into a clique. And journalism can provide that self-reflection. Journalist can hold up a mirror that can cause us all to reflect and ponder — do our words match our actions? The trite word that was always used was “objective.” That word never made sense to me, even in journalism school. After all, nobody can really be objective. We bring to any story our own thoughts and feelings. What we can do is treat people fairly. I have tried to do that over the years — and I will continue to do that both on the radio and here online.

So I do love this profession, despite its faults. After all, I decided I wanted to be a journalist when I was 13-years-old. Ironically, I fell in love with journalism through radio — two radio stations in San Francisco: KGO-AM, the Bay Area talk station, and KCBS, the Bay Area’s all-news station.

Journalist have the sometimes unenviable task of saying what others will not say, and that has made journalists unpopular. It goes with the territory. And there will be times that you may be ticked off at me. (And I pay forward an apology?)

I have a few tenants for publishing. One is that publications have to get things right. In my experience, truth is like beauty — it depends on the beholder. But to the extent possible, I will attempt to get the facts right… and when I don’t, I’ll tell you what I got wrong and correct it. Anothertenent is that you have to treat people fairly. The third is that publications can’t be boring. There is so much to do and so little time, the real competition in the world is for time.

I can promise that I will do everything under my control to treat everybody as fairly as I possibly can.

I hope to bring some of this community to radio… and I’m going to do it here on the Dorobek Insider. Earlier this year, I offered my tips for bloggers. In that post, I suggested that people need to be prepared to allow a blog to evolve over time — to grow and change. That was my experience with the FCW Insider, and I hope and believe that the Dorobek Insider also will evolve — and, I hope, grow — over time. I don’t know what the end point is. Frankly, I hope you will help me figure that out.

Regardless, as always, comments, concerns, questions, suggestions (for the blog or the radio show) or tips are always welcome. I can be reached by e-mail at “chris at” or by phone at 202.658.8590. People can also just comment here — no registration required, at least as of right now.

They say life is a journey. I hope you’ll continue to stay with me… both on the radio and here online… and let me know your thoughts.

Written by cdorobek

September 2, 2008 at 8:39 PM

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