"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, and here's one except:
His interest in launching a new kind of news organization, capable of sustaining investigative work and having an effect with it, intensified throughout the summer as news from the Snowden files continued to pour forth.
Attempts to meet with Greenwald to discuss these plans and to find out more about how he operates were unsuccessful until this month. When they finally were able to talk, Omidyar learned that Greenwald, his collaborator Laura Poitras, and The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill had been planning to form their own journalism venture. Their ideas and Omidyar’s ideas tracked so well with each other that on October 5 they decided to “join forces” (his term). This is the news that leaked yesterday. But there is more.
Omidyar believes that if independent, ferocious, investigative journalism isn’t brought to the attention of general audiences it can never have the effect that actually creates a check on power. Therefore the new entity — they have a name but they’re not releasing it, so I will just call it NewCo — will have to serve the interest of all kinds of news consumers. It cannot be a niche product. It will have to cover sports, business, entertainment, technology: everything that users demand.
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.
The usually reliable Mike Calderone at Huff Post claims he's confirmed Scahill and Poitras will indeed be joining Greenwald in the new venture.
Tuesday Updates: Wash Post claims the new outlet is seeking to hire Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. They have not commented.
Reuters with this scoop on 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."
Earlier: Glenn in this case is sort of a victim of a leak. News about him leaving the Guardian, apparently on okay terms, got out before he had a chance to decide how he would describe the new media venture he is starting or joining. What this means about the future of further Snowden stories we do not know.
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, he said.