(AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Wednesday Updates: Pierre Omidyar just out with his own statement. Among other things: "I developed an interest in supporting independent journalists in a way that leverages their work to the greatest extent possible, all in support of the public interest. And, I want to find ways to convert mainstream readers into engaged citizens. I think there’s more that can be done in this space, and I’m eager to explore the possibilities."
Jay Rosen just interviewed Omidyar, his longest chat so far.
At the core of Newco will be a different plan for how to build a large news organization. It resembles what I called in an earlier post “the personal franchise model” in news. You start with individual journalists who have their own reputations, deep subject matter expertise, clear points of view, an independent and outsider spirit, a dedicated online following, and their own way of working. The idea is to attract these people to NewCo, or find young journalists capable of working in this way, and then support them well.
Earlier: Glenn Greenwald, in this case, had to deal with a hot news leak himself. News about him leaving The Guardian, apparently on okay terms, got out late yesteday afernoon before he had a chance to decide how he would describe the new media venture he is helping to launch. What this means about the future of further Edward Snowden/NSA stories was unclear. Buzzfeed reported it first:
Greenwald declined to comment on the precise scale of the new venture or on its budget, but he said it would be “a very well-funded… very substantial new media outlet.” He said the source of funding will be public when the venture is officially announced.
“My role, aside from reporting and writing for it, is to create the entire journalism unit from the ground up by recruiting the journalists and editors who share the same journalistic ethos and shaping the whole thing—but especially the political journalism part—in the image of the journalism I respect most,” he said.
Greenwald will continue to live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he said, and would bring some staff to Rio, but the new organization’s main hubs will be New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.
But who was the moneyman behind the new venture? A short while later Reuters was the first to report this scoop on the man behind the offer: “Glenn Greenwald, who has made headlines around the world with his reporting on U.S. electronic surveillance programs, is leaving the Guardian newspaper to join a new media venture funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to people familiar with the matter.”
The Washington Post claims the new outlet is seeking to hire Laura Poitras (the filmmaker and writer who was a key part of the Snowden bombshells) and Jeremy Scahill. Those two have not commented.
More from the Post:
Omidyar, who grew up in the Washington area, founded eBay in 1995 and became a billionaire two years later with its initial public stock offering. Forbes estimated that his net worth was $8.5 billion in September.
He has been involved in funding journalism projects before, including Backfence, a defunct network of “hyper-local” news sites in the Washington area…
Greenwald, 46, who left Salon for The Guardian last year, offered this statement to Buzzfeed:
My partnership with the Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling. I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved. The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.
And Erik Wemple at his media blog at the Post adds:
The new media organization, said Greenwald, will be a general-interest proposition, including coverage of sports and entertainment. Greenwald told BuzzFeed that his role would be to build the “entire journalism unit,” particularly the part that bears on political coverage. It will be online in time to publish NSA-related stories that stem from the documents he received from Edward Snowden. He would not hazard a guess on the launch date.
Should the outlet seek headquarters outside the legal reach of the US? Greenwald said it was “an important question.”
Rick Perlstein discusses Greenwald’s sizable fanbase.