The new venture that lured Guardian writer Glenn Greenwald away from the title in the midst of the Edward Snowden NSA leaks is backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and involves film maker Laura Poitras and The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill.
According to Jay Rosen of Press Think, who spoke to Omidyar about the project, he got Greenwald on board with his idea earlier this month after learning he had already been planning to form a new journalism venture with Scahill and Poitras.
Greenwald worked closely with Poitras on the Edward Snowden revelations at the Guardian, which catapulted them into the headlines when Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained under the Terrorism Act in the UK after a trip to exchange documents with Poitras in August.
Rosen wrote in his blog: “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 in NewCo – will have to serve the interest of all kinds of news consumers. It cannot be a nice product. It will have to cover sports, business, entertainment, technology: everything that users demand.”
He went on to explain that ‘Newco’ would aim to attract reputable journalists and young writers who understood the importance of building an individual following and audience, and would provide the tools to support them.
Rosen wrote: “By “support” Omidyar means many things. The first and most important is really good editors (Omidyar used the phrase “high standards of editing” several times during our talk).
“Also included: strong back end technology. Powerful publishing tools. Research assistance. And of course, a strong legal team because the kind of journalism NewCo intends to practice is the kind that is capable of challenging some of the most powerful people in the world."
He added: “Omidyar said NewCo will look for “independent journalists with expertise, and a voice and a following.” He suggested that putting together a team of such people means understanding how each of them does his or her work, and supporting that, rather than forcing everyone into the same structure.”
Greenwald and the Guardian announced his departure from the paper on Tuesday.