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.