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Inside the Media Mind of Matt Bracken, Managing Editor of FedScoop and CyberScoop

As the Managing Editor, Matt Bracken oversees the coverage of federal government technology policy and cybersecurity at FedScoop and CyberScoop. Matt and his team are dedicated to covering topics ranging from the AI Executive Order, federal modernization efforts, China’s emergence over Russia as the top cyber threat, and more. 

Matt notes that cyber is touching more aspects of the government in an all consuming way; it’s no longer just a niche topic for audiences. On this episode of Inside the Media Minds, co-hosts Christine Blake and Luca Pagni talk with Matt about the evolution of cybersecurity in the public sector, the launch of AIScoop and the key focus on election security this year. 

Election Security In An Election Year

This biggest topic of the year? It’s election security. Matt shines a light on Scoop News Group’s approach to prioritizing the topic as a main beat and hiring Derek Johnson to solely focus on the topic. By prioritizing this beat, the publication is attempting to “get ahead” of any election security mishaps. They are striving to be a resource for readers seeking a behind the scenes look at what the government is doing to work on election security, and help delineate between fact and fiction.  

To hear more of Matt’s experiences and insights, listen to the full podcast below or read the transcript!


0:25  – Matt’s Journey to Scoop News Group

3:14 – Matt’s Day-to-Day Work 

4:34 – Key Topics that Matt Covers 

7:25 – AIScoop 

8:17 – The Evolution of Cybersecurity Coverage

9:39 – Matt’s Lessons Learned 

11:40 – Matt’s Favorite Story 

14:27 – Matt’s Favorite Sports Team 

14:57 – Navigating Coverage in an Election Year 

17:43 – Differences in the NIST Frameworks

19:42 – What Makes a Good Thought Leader? 

21:34 – How to Pitch Matt 

23:53 – Scoop News Group & Industry Events 

25:54 – Matt’s Love of Sports

Missed an episode of Inside the Media Minds? Catch up on one of our past episodes here!


Christine Blake (CB): Welcome to Inside the Media Minds. This is your host, Christine Blake. This show features in depth interviews with tech reporters who share everything from their biggest pet peeves to their favorite stories. From our studio at W2 Communications, let’s go Inside the Media Minds.

Hi everyone, this is Christine Blake, the Host of Inside the Media Minds. And I am here with MB, managing editor of FedScoop and CyberScoop along with my co-host for today, LP. Hi, Matt, thanks for joining us on the podcast.

Matt Bracken (MB): Hi, thank you guys for having me. Happy to be here.

CB: Yeah, happy to have you. So I know you’ve been covering or overseeing the coverage of federal government technology policy cybersecurity, for some of these Scoop News Group publications. So we’d love to hear from you about your journey to Scoop News Group. I know you’ve been there for probably over a year now. Right?

MB: Almost, it’s actually been shorter. It’s been five, maybe six months. So it’s been a whirlwind.

CB: Got it? Got it. Yeah. Well, I know you’ve had some previous experience and other publications. So I’d love to hear about your journey that led you to FedScoop and CyberScoop at this point.

MB: Yeah, it’s been a winding road for sure. I started out in newspapers, my first journalism job was at the Arizona Daily Star, where I was kind of a jack of all trades, digital guy, web producer, video producer, sports blogger, kind of any sort of general like website work was kind of my purview. Was there for about a year when I got hired by the Baltimore Sun. I stayed there for just about a decade, largely in the sports department. But then in the latter part of my time, there, I was Director of Audience Engagement, where I oversaw social media and digital projects. From there, did a brief detour actually into the world of comms, but that brought me to D.C. And then from there, I landed at Morning Counsult spent a little over four years, there was a Senior Editor in charge of the policy beats, one of which was tech. And that proved to be a really good foundation for me and really helped me in landing the job at Scoop, which has been, you know, fantastic, so far, even though it hasn’t been too long of a time.

CB: I know it’s been one of the, you know, leading publications in the in the cybersecurity space, and, you know, the technology space overall. So I’m sure it’s been exciting to be there for, you know, the past five, six months or so.

MB: It’s been unbelievable. Um, you know, a lot of the coverage on tech that I did in my previous job was, was a bit surface level, it was kind of general tech topics, there was a policy, but also like a consumer focus. And I think it’s been really exciting for me to dig into more niche areas of the discipline. You know, tech touches every person’s life in myriad ways. So that’s been pretty fascinating to watch. And, you know, cybersecurity, that’s a beat that literally every media outlet has to cover in some form or fashion. So to be at kind of the flagship publication, has really been exciting for me.

Luca Pagni (LP): I’m just curious, what is it like in your day to day role as the Managing Editor at Cyberscoop and FedScoop?

MB: Yeah, there’s, there’s never a dull moment, I can assure you. You know, I think an editor is only as good as his or her staff. And I’m, like, wildly blessed to be working with, you know, some of the best journalists in tech in the business. So there’s a lot of sort of, like constant communication and collaborating among the two teams that I oversee. You know, we have some flexibility. We don’t have to fill any print pages, obviously, we do have daily newsletters that we have to kind of keep filled with content, but and, you know, generally keep the site fresh, but we don’t necessarily feel the need to be everything for everyone. So we can kind of pick our spots, really serve our audience, I think in a meaningful way. And yeah, just just kind of making sure you know, we’re all working together, kind of like rowing the boat in the same way and, and providing the best federal government tech policy coverage and cybersecurity coverage that’s out there.

LP: Definitely, I mean, yeah, there’s certainly a lot of topics to cover in both of those spaces, respectively. And I know like you just said at both of your publications, you do cover a wide variety, from cyber to policy to AI. What are some of the trends you’ve seen in the last few months in these areas? But then also, what are some of the topics that you’d really like to cover in the next six to 12 months?

MB: Yeah, I mean, you kind of hit the nail on the head with AI. We kind of like to say that like every reporter is an AI reporter. You can’t help but be in the tech space and not have that touch parts of your beat. So for us it FedScoop specifically, we’ve done a ton of reporting on the Biden White House’s AI executive order which came out in late October, paying particularly close attention to the use case inventories among federal agencies. It’s been really interesting to report on sort of like how different agencies are compiling their inventories, what kind of gets left on the cutting room floor that maybe shouldn’t be left on the cutting room floor. Agencies obviously have to prioritize kind of hitting these various benchmarks that are called out for in the EO. So that’s something we’ve done a ton of reporting on, Rebecca Heilweil and Madison Alder, kind of our ACE reporters on FedScoop that have just opened that beat. And it really set the tone, I think, for, you know, publications across tech media. So we’re very interested in that.

MB: We’re interested in sort of the the non AI technical components of federal government work as well, you know, ongoing modernization efforts, sort of examining the tough decisions that agencies might have to make based on, you know, various appropriations our sort of like tech call outs, and, you know, OMB guidance or executive orders do some have to fall to the wayside because these agencies don’t get enough money to kind of see these initiatives through, that’s something we’re interested in. And then obviously, looking for stories that bridge the gap between FedScoop and CyberScoop. I feel like that’s kind of like a, you know, like a number one priority for my role in overseeing both sites. So it’s always good to do stories like that. A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about a new office that CISA was creating to help agencies meet zero trust goals. And then in cyber more broadly, we’ve done a ton of reporting on sort of China’s emergence in the past year or so over Russia is kind of like the top cyber threat, that threat intel analysts are looking at, you know, coverage of hat hacking groups, like Volt Typhoon, Chinese sponsored group, and just kind of this increasing trend of like targeting of critical infrastructure, you know, living off the land techniques, all sorts of wonky things that, you know, seem to be on the rise across the board.

LP: And there certainly is a lot to dive into all those topics.

MB: Truly.

CB: Yeah, I know, I’m Scoop News Group has, you know, the new and upcoming publication AI Scoop? How will that impact coverage and the other publications if that’s gonna be focused on AI?

MB: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think a lot of it remains to be seen. You know, like I mentioned earlier, everyone throughout the Scoop newsrooms, reports on AI in some form or fashion. So I think at least initially, will be sort of a clearinghouse for all AI coverage across publications. You know, again, we’ll see if eventually, that leads to kind of like, additional staff. But yeah, I think in the meantime, it’s just a good spot for you know, anyone who’s interested in tech, anyone who’s interested in AI to just come to a one stop shop for all that coverage?

CB: No, that makes sense. Um, just a bit ago, you mentioned how, you know, one of your big goals and roles is bridging the gap between CyberScoop and FedScoop. How do you How have you seen the evolution of cybersecurity and the public sector over the past several years, and especially in the past six months or so, since your time has been there?

MB: Yeah, that’s a great question. Definitely caveat, but I’m a relative newcomer to the beat. But but from what I’ve seen, it just seems like increasingly, we see cyber, touching all aspects of government and sort of a more all consuming way. You know, kind of the aftermath of the Biden administration, cyber strategy and ensuing guidance and implementation strategies. You have all sorts of GAO reports that are keeping agencies honest on hitting various cyber benchmarks. You know, maybe on the flip side of things that is less of a positive development, political politicization of CISA, in some ways, particularly around election security. It just feels like the general awareness has seemed like an uptick of the discipline. It’s no longer this kind of like niche thing that like the tech geeks are like solely focused on. It’s something that people need to think about, you know, on a daily basis and protect themselves.

LP: And I’d be curious to hear of just throughout all your experience, what has been one of the biggest lessons that you’ve learned throughout your career thus far that you know, you’ve been able to take through your different roles and now to CyberScoop and FedScoop?

MB: That’s a really good question. I mean, I don’t know I started in journalism. before Twitter was even a thing, just think about that innovation alone and how its transformed like all of our, our work. It’s kind of wild to think about. So I guess just sort of be nimble, be prepared to pivot. I went into journalism thinking that I absolutely 100% wanted to be a sports journalist and, and I was able to do that, and that was great. But, you know, there came a time for me where I didn’t want to think about sports, like, you know, every waking minute of my life like in work out of work, I, you know, grew pretty tired of the nights and the weekends. Think I worked like 10 Thanksgivings a row in a row. So, so yeah, I was looking for like that pivot point. And I was thankfully able to do so to a more digitally focused role in newspapers, and then from there, pivot into policy and now again, pivoted again to cybersecurity and federal government tech policy. So I think like, if you if you really care about like journalism over like a specific topic, then you’ll be able to kind of like, make your way. But yeah, I guess it’s hard to get comfortable in this industry, which I think is probably like a good thing for survival.

LP: I mean, you definitely sound like you’ve been resilient in it and have found your way to a really interesting beat.

MB: Appreciate that.

LP: And, you know, just as you did touch on it, that you’ve covered, you know, from sports, to policy to now, you know, the intersection of government and technology and just cybersecurity in general. What’s been one of your favorite stories that you’ve written throughout your career? Because, you know, there is a wide bucket? I don’t know if you have one from each beat, or if there’s one that stands out above all the rest?

MB: Yeah, that’s a really good question. Um, I did a story for Morning Consult, sort of like the early part of the pandemic, we did a lot of poll tracking. And one question that we got into the field, you know, early March was, if the United States if if industry was able to develop a vaccine against the Coronavirus, would you be willing to take it? So we asked that question of U.S. adults every week, and we monitored those trends very closely. And when we initially asked the question, it was sky high in terms of the shares of the public across demographics that said, yes, absolutely, we want to take a vaccine. Months went by there was a bit more politicization, again, of the pandemic, and, and questioning of, you know, big pharma and the development of vaccines. And, you know, six or seven months into the tracking, we noticed huge double digit declines in terms of the shares who didn’t say they would be willing to take the vaccine. So I wrote a piece sort of chronicling that in September 2020, I believe. And these trends, again, they cut across, you know, political affiliations, income brackets. Basically, any demographic that we track, you saw massive declines. And again, this was many months before vaccines were actually available. So, so that piece got a good amount of attention. And I was happy about that. I mean, it was, you know, I don’t know, if you’re happy about reporting news, that’s, that’s not necessarily good. But I think we forecasted something that, you know, the nation ended up having to grapple with, like months later and even into today. So that was one of the more memorable ones. A lot of sports stories I did prior to that at the Baltimore Sun were were nice, sort of like more human interest pieces. I like to do that as much as possible. I kind of missed that element of, of sports writing less so kind of the breaking news game coverage culture of it. But yeah, that kind of runs the gamut between sort of, like serious policy and kind of lighter side fair.

LP: I mean, that’s definitely an interesting, you know, opportunity that you had to kind of cover all that related to COVID before. Like you said, the vaccine was actually released, so regardless, I still think that was a really cool story that you’re all together.

CB: Are you a Ravens fan?

MB: I’m not, I’m a Michigan native, so lifelong Detroit Lions fan. So yeah, I was there. I was on the sports desk when the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012, though, so

CB: Oh, cool. Well, the Lions has a near miss this year, you know,

LP: Definitely a bright future for that team.

MB: Yes, yes. Best best football year of our lives for sure.

CB: That’s cool. Awesome. So a couple of like more current event type of questions. I know this year a lot of coverage for cybersecurity will be focused on election security, disinformation, things of that nature, in addition to AI.  How do you plan to navigate and manage that type of coverage for FedScoop and CyberScoop? And like set yourself apart from other publications covering all of that as well?

CB: No, that’s a great perspective. And I think having that dedicated resource, who’s you know, living, breathing and writing on that topic will be really essential. You know, moving into to the second part of this year.

MB: Yeah, that’s a great question. We are, you know, substantially prioritizing election security as a beat going forward. We just hired a reporter. Within the past couple months, Derek Johnson, to cover that beat specifically, he’s a kind of veteran of the the gov tech space and has already produced a bunch of great journalism on the topic, particularly tied to the robocall that reached New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, a robo call that imitated via artificial intelligence, Joe Biden’s voice and all the implications and fallout of that Derek’s kind of own that, you know, competitive story that a lot of people are interested in. And he’ll continue to do that. We’re really, I think, would that be trying to sort of get ahead of any, you know, knock on wood, disasters, tied to election security, he’s done a lot of reporting, and continues to do a lot of reporting about kind of the the people who make elections run, you know, your your state, secretaries of state, your election officials, he has a story coming out probably next week about these various tabletop exercises that election officials are pursuing. So we kind of want, you know, if things happen in the elections, if things go south, you know, hopefully it doesn’t, you know, shake out that way. But we want to be kind of like the place where readers can come across the board to get kind of behind the scenes information, well, ahead of that time, be a resource for people just interested in how these things are conducted. And also sort of separate fact, from fiction, I think oftentimes in cybersecurity more broadly as a beat, it’s kind of easy to get snowed by claims that that hackers can make, and we really try a CyberScoop to be that place that can can really get into the nitty gritty and, and, you know, kind of assess whether these these claims are true or not really be like a more like sober analyst of things of that nature. And I think that especially goes for election security. So again, continuing to talk to people on the ground as much as possible and, and doing the legwork ahead of time.

LP: Kind of just switching gears of you know, earlier this week, NIST released the second edition of their cybersecurity framework. I was just curious to see how, what differences you notice between version one and version two of the document, how you think this will impact the cybersecurity landscape and even tap into election security?

MB: That’s a great question. We covered that Caroline Nihill, a great young reporter for FedScoop did an excellent job sort of explaining the differences between version 1.0 and version 2.0. We’re talking about a difference of like a decade. So obviously, there’s a lot of differences, but things that really stood out to her and myself and kind of like comparing the documents was this addition of a six core function govern, which focuses on how an organization’s cyber risk management strategy, general expectations policy are communicated, but also monitored. So so just I guess, like, kind of like firming up a lot of the particulars getting people on the same page more. And also, I think it ties back to what we talked about earlier, in terms of like, cybers, growing creep on, you know, all public and private sector business. It’s not just this niche thing anymore. People really have to pay attention, you know, no matter what your professional function is. So I think this document is very tied to that. And just in terms of broadening the cyber landscape, and making decision makers, people who are involved in anything with implementation, maybe a bit more accountable.

LP: Definitely, and I like that, you know, like you said, this is kind of a way to bridge the cybersecurity and public sector because it’s not just one or the other, it’s both need to collaborate. So

MB: 100%

LP: And just thinking about, you know, going back to CyberScoop, you guys cover a lot of research and topical subject matters in the industry? When it comes to thought leadership? What do you look for in those thought leaders like what makes them valuable resources? What are the kinds of people that you want to talk to? How do you differentiate yourself? Well from, you know, others in the industry?

MB: It’s a really good question. I think it’s, it can be different depending on the type of story we’re pursuing, whether it’s more of a breaking news piece versus, you know, like a feature and enterprise piece. You know, for news, we’re always trying to talk to the decision makers at the moment current government officials, regulators, members of Congress, people who have kind of like their finger on the pulse, you know, who are really deciding which way a decision might go at the moment. For features, obviously, we would like those voices to but understand that, you know, current professional obligations and responsibilities that might prevent them from speaking freely. So a lot of times in feature reporting and enterprise reporting, we try to target those former gov officials and regulators who can speak from experience who’ve been in the trenches, who can kind of forecast what people who are in their former shoes might now be thinking and might want to do. Their perspectives, I think are pretty invaluable and can signal what direction you know, agencies or lawmakers might take. So a little bit of both, but I think there is that interesting distinction between news and feature writing there?

LP: No, it’s definitely helpful to know for our listeners that as they you know what approach CyberScoop, and you and your team just how to best leverage those thought leaders.

CB: I think that’s a good segue, we have a couple listener questions. And one of them is kind of, you know, relevant to that thought leadership question, but it’s how do you prefer to be pitched? I’m sure you’ve had a lot get a lot of emails, people that want to be in CyberScoop. Let’s keep talking about these important issues. What is your advice, best practices for organizations trying to get in front of you?

MB: Yeah, I think it is, like candidly, a pretty high bar to clear when pitching private sector people, particularly when you’re talking about breaking news things, because because you’re right, we do get a million pitches from a million different agencies wrapping, you know, people within various companies that we may or may not have heard of, and it’s just hard to separate, you know, or distinguish one from the next. But for those feature stories, like I said, previously, we’re always on the lookout for former govies you know, it’s hard to sort of like plan ahead, like, oh, like, we’re gonna need, like this type of official from this specific agency who might be affiliated now with this specific private sector company, until we’re like, really in it, which makes I think the pitch process for the comms folks like pretty challenging. But I mean, I think I’ve found it helpful. Generally speaking, in those like kind of intro emails that sort of put the clients out there. I try to save those just for like a rainy day when we are reporting out those like, really in depth enterprise pieces, just so I have like my own sort of like, warehouse for like, oh, I need someone who was like, you know, IT for the Department of Energy. Let me go back and see like, which, you know, comms firm pitched me one of those X officials. So it’s really incumbent upon us honestly, to kind of not, you know, lean into that auto delete instinct, which I’m ashamed to say I sometimes have. But, but yeah, I think the intro emails, it’s always helpful to put up top like, this person’s like government or regulatory experience. And then, you know, again, save it for when we need it.

CB: That’s great advice, get to the point, say who you’re offering. And then you can always go back and reference it easily. So love that. Another one. Before we wrap up is, I know we have some big industry events coming up like RSA, and we have Black Hat in the summer. What like, how do you view those events? Do you find them valuable? Do you all have any, you know, plans for events this year? Can we hear more about that?

MB: Yeah, I mean, CyberScoop will definitely be covering RSA and Black Hat. You know, CYBERWARCON, late last year, anything that kind of brings together the the thought leaders from that space is something that we want to be all over. I think, again, like I’m a relative rookie in the space from the cov, but from the coverage that I’ve read previously, that we’ve done there. It seems like they present good opportunities for some kind of boots on the ground feature writing. There was a great enterprise piece that I know Elias Groll, and I believe Christian Vasquez and AJ Vicens contributed to last year about all these red teaming exercises just trying to break these different cyber and AI models. So I think that that’s obviously good. You know, the networking component is especially invaluable when you’re covering a panel, you know, you’re, you’re getting the same information as everyone else in the room, right. But it is super helpful to our journalist to be able to make those sideline connections get tipped off to things that might be happening off stage, and then kind of report, you know, more interesting and unique enterprise stories from there. So certainly valuable. Definitely a big part of our coverage plans later this year. And, you know, something we’re always interested in kind of investing in and learning more about.

CB: Yeah, good to know. I mean, it’s one of those few times that you have almost everyone in the industry in one spot. So it’s like trying to navigate how to meet with everybody and how that how to pursue those conversations. And then the reporting that follows. So I’m sure it’s a whole challenge.

MB: 100% Yeah, it’s it can be a wild time, but valuable for all parties. I think.

CB: Cool! Awesome. And just to wrap up, what is something maybe that people don’t know about you, aside from journalism and reporting and all that and you something that you do for fun or in your free time?

MB: Oh, um, well, I’m definitely like a sports sicko. I mean, like, I grew up in Michigan, graduated from the University of Michigan. Yeah, I’m a complete maniac when it comes to Michigan football and basketball. So was able to go to the National Championship game this year in Houston.

CB: Oh, cool!

MB: That was yeah, kind of like a, you know, lifelong highlight for me. So yeah, following Michigan, Detroit Lions, Detroit Pistons. And then I’m also kind of like a, like a film and TV nerd, trying to see all like the Best Picture nominees. And yeah, I just like love all that stuff.

CB: That’s fun. I love that. Cool. Well, thanks so much, Matt, for joining us and telling us more about your role at FedScoop and CyberScoop has been very informative. And we’ve learned a lot. So thanks for sharing that.

MB: Absolutely. Thank you both for having me. I appreciate it.

CB: Yeah. Thanks for everyone who tuned into this episode of Inside the Media Minds. Thank you for joining us on today’s episode of Inside the Media Minds. To learn more about our podcast and hear all of our episodes, please visit us at and follow us on Twitter @Media Minds Show, and you can subscribe anywhere podcasts are found.