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Like it or not, this is the future of American journalism

October 17, 2013

It I had a dime for every story that I’ve read over the last decade about how to save American journalism, I’d probably have as much money as this guy. His name is Pierre Omidyar and like Ernest Hemingway said about rich people in general, he’s very different from you and me…he has more money. In fact, he has $8.5 billion, and he made it the old-fashioned way, if by old-fashioned you mean the 1990s way. He started a website — specifically eBay, thus starting a significant trend in modern American business, the trend of capitalizing the second letter of a company or product name but not the first.

So, yeah, he’s a capitalist. He’s earned the right to spend the money however he wants.–  a new yacht, a handful of U.S. senators, whatever.

But Pierre Omidyar has a strange obsession: Newsrooms. He reportedly hangs out in them, reportedly likes journalists (that’s farther than I’m willing to go on some days). More importantly, he seems to genuinely care about the state of journalism in the 21st Century. He’s very concerned about issues like the government’s crackdown on whistleblowers and the people who report on whistleblowers, about unwarranted spying on American citizens, and related topics. A few years back, he started a local journalism website in his adopted home of Hawaii, and rather than getting turned off, he was hooked.

Yesterday, Omidyar rocked the journalism world with news that carried as much weight as and possibly more than the late summer announcement that founder Jeff Bezos had bought the Washington Post for $250 million. It was revealed that the eBay founder will spend roughly that same amount to build a digital news organization from the ground up, starting with the man who helped break the government spying scandal wide open, Glenn Greenwald, the filmmaker and Greenwald ally Laura Poitras, and “Dirty Wars” creator Jeremy Scahill. It’s hard to imagine three more controversial names in modern journalism, but clearly the new enterprise is programmed to question authority, which I think is awesome. Read the rest at


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