Five Years of Route Fifty

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Five years ago this week Government Executive Media Group launched a new publication covering state and local government called Route Fifty.

At the time, Government Executive had been covering the federal government for more than four decades. We leveraged that experience in creating Route Fifty, first as a channel on the Government Executive website, then in 2015 as a stand-alone publication. We quickly learned two things:

  • States and localities face a set of unique and complex challenges that are critically important to the future of the nation.
  • It’s a big country.

Undeterred, we plunged in. As founding editor Michael Grass put it on the day Route Fifty launched, our mission was simple: “connecting the people and ideas advancing state and local governments across the United States.”

We covered a lot of ground during our first year, but we were just getting started. Our small staff grew, and our audience grew even more quickly—doubling in its first year alone. In 2016, just a year after launch, Route Fifty took home best website honors in the Jesse H. Neal Awards, known as the Pulitzer prizes of business media. 

At the core of what we did, and continue to do, was a commitment to the highest standards of journalism. Highlights of the wide-ranging work our team of reporters and editors has produced include:

In 2017, we relaunched the Route Fifty website with a focus on improved navigation, mobile optimization and a new portal to highlight the ever-growing roster of in-person and digital events we were hosting around the country.

Such gatherings, from multi-city roadshows to webcasts, are an integral element in achieving Route Fifty’s mission of facilitating the sharing of information and ideas among state and local leaders. Senior editor Alisha Powell Gillis, who facilitates and programs these events, was recently named one of Folio: magazine’s Top Women in Media for her efforts. 

As part of our continuing effort to highlight the work of state and local leaders, in 2016 we launched the Navigator Awards. In the years since, we have recognized dozens of public officials for their achievements in implementing ideas that improve government services and the lives of people in the communities they serve. 

Now, at a time when state and local governments are facing one of the biggest challenges in American history in addressing the coronavirus pandemic, we believe Route Fifty’s mission is more important than ever. As Grass wrote back in 2015, “innovation within state, county and municipal government is no longer a choice. It’s a necessity. And at Route Fifty, we’re going to tell the stories, share the experiences and report on how government practitioners are doing it on a daily basis.”

That’s exactly what we’ve done, and will continue to do. 

Photo courtesy Famartin, Wikimedia
Tom Shoop is executive vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group.

NEXT STORY: The Pandemic Will Cleave America in Two

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