The media story of the day on Tuesday was the news that Glenn Greenwald, the investigative journalist who wrote a series of stories on the mass secret surveillance capabilities of the U.S. and the U.K., was quitting The Guardian with whom he had been since 2012. His hard-hitting scoops, based on reports leaked by the whistle-blower Edward Snowden, had become a familiar feature in the newspaper.
Mr. Glenwald only announced that his decision to leave was prompted by a “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.”
The dream job is a new media venture that Mr. Greenwald was reluctant to initially give details about except to say that it was “very well-funded.”
It is now known that the funder is Pierre Omidyar, the founder of the online auction site eBay.
Mr. Omidyar apparently learnt that Mr. Greenwald, his collaborator Laura Poitras and The Nation’s Jeremy Scahill were planning to start a venture on their own and offered to fund it.
Media analyst Jay Rosen writing on his website Pressthink.org, says he was one of the people Mr. Omdiyar consulted at the planning stage of the new venture. Mr. Omdiyar, he says thinks 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.”
The new entity will cover sports, business, entertainment, technology.
Mr. Rosen describes calls the new venture as “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… or find young journalists capable of working in this way and then support them well.”
Mr. Omidyar is quoted as saying that he wants “independent journalists with expertise, and a voice and a following.” He believes that the venture can work, despite the competition, if it strikes the right balance between “voicey blogging and traditional journalism,” and to combine that with high-end technology, says Mr. Rosen.
Mr. Omdiyar who was a contender for buying The Washington Post, said that he was willing to put at least $250 million into funding the new media entity.
The Guardian in a statement said it was disappointed that he should be leaving, but wished him all the best. “Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him,” a newspaper spokesperson said.