Nextgov's Aliya Sternstein Wins Award for OPM Hack Coverage

Mark Van Scyoc/

The awards are also known as "the Pulitzer Prize of business media."

Nextgov’s senior correspondent Aliya Sternstein on Friday was awarded a 2016 Jesse H. Neal Award for her coverage of the Office of Personnel Management hack.

The breach -- the largest of its kind in the federal space -- exposed the personal information of 21.5 million former, current and prospective federal contractors, employees and their families.

Nextgov Executive Editor Camille Tuutti accepted the award on behalf on Sternstein at the April 1 awards luncheon at New York City’s Pier 60.

“This award is a well-deserved honor for Aliya," Tuutti said. "Since news broke of the historic OPM hack, she stayed on top of the story, relentlessly reporting new developments and tracking the constantly shifting timeline of events. Her tenacious reporting is a testament to the type of high-quality reporting of key issues in federal information technology for which Nextgov is known.”

Established in 1955, the Jesse H. Neal Awards aim to recognize editorial excellence in business journalism. This year saw over 600 nominations.

According to the Jesse H. Awards:

Entries are submitted in one of three classifications, based upon the publication's gross advertising and circulation revenue; some categories had no revenue classification. All entries go through a two-tiered screening process in order to reach the final judging.

The Stage I Screening Board is composed of more than 150 experienced business media editors. The highest-scoring entries are passed on to the Stage II Screening Panel, composed of past and present members of the Connectiv Editorial & Content Committee, which pares the entries down to four per category for final judging.

The Board of Judges, 12 to 18 professionals knowledgeable in all aspects of business journalism, makes the final decisions. Entries are scored in three areas: journalistic enterprise, extent of service to the field and editorial craftsmanship.

Sternstein, who joined Nextgov in April 2009, has previously been recognized by the Neal Awards: In 2012, she was a finalist in the Best News Coverage category for “Cybersecurity News Coverage.”

Nextgov’s sister publications Route Fifty, Government Executive and Defense One were all 2016 finalists in various Neal categories. Route Fifty, which launched in April 2015, won the Neal Award for Best Website.