EBay Founder Pierre Omidyar Backs News Channel With Sky-High Ambitions

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It's been leaked revealed that eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is creating a "mass-media organization" (a.k.a news channel) and will be backing it to the tune of $250 million. While the project doesn't have a name or a solid editorial team yet, former Guardian investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald is heading up the venture, and documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and The Nation journalist Jeremy Scahill have also joined the team.

While Omidyar has a huge personal wealth — estimated by Forbes to be $8.5 billion — so far he has largely stuck to philanthropic ventures through his company, the Omidyar Network. His interest in journalism first became apparent in 2010, when the tech entrepreneur backed a news startup, the Honolulu Civil Beat. The site seeks to provide transparent coverage about local civic news in Hawaii through high investigative journalistic standards and old-school reporting. This year, he was approached about buying The Washington Post and it was during the negotiations that Omidyar got wind of Greenwald's idea for a news startup. And, the rest is history — or not quite, since the project hasn't actually gotten off the ground, yet.

What can we expect from this news site? Judging by the barn-storming success of eBay, one hopes for great things. In an interview, NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen said the key to the venture's success is its point-of-difference in the online news space. The focus is on tailoring the delivery of news content to each individual reader, as well as striking a balance between, in the words of Rosen, "voicey blogging and traditional journalism."

The type of journalist hired to write for the channel will be a different breed, too. Omidyar says the company will look for "independent journalists with expertise, and a voice, and a following." It's an exciting sentiment, and we agree with Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post when she said, "Given how effective he was at creating a whole new definition of retail with eBay, as somebody who’s in the media space, I’m interested to see what innovations he will come up with in this space, which I think will benefit all of us.” Watch this space, indeed. (The Independent)

Photo: Via The Independent.

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