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eBay founder backs Snowden’s cause with new magazine

Billionaire founder of eBay Pierre Omidyar is looking to create a new technology-backed newsroom. Called First Look Media, Omidyar said he has created the newsroom to meet the “challenge of modern journalism”, stating that he wants to build this as a public service to report on issues in a “transparent and responsible manner”.

“These days we’re overwhelmed by all manner of media competing for our attention in this complex and interconnected world. We all want news and  information in a way that works for each  of us.”

Reporting on Snowden’s leaked information

It will launch its first magazine this week, which will focus on reporting on the leaked classified government documents of NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden (pictured). This is led by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill.

“In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic escalation in the threats against journalists reporting on the NSA story. First Look will uphold the rights of journalists everywhere to report on the sensitive and often controversial information that they learn from sources,” wrote Omidya.

He said that the site’s staff has already uncovered “a host of new and disturbing revelations in the NSA documents.”

Aside from journalists, the firm has hired a chief revenue officer, Michael Rosen from AT&T AdWorks.

First Look Media’s technology-backed model

“First Look is a  marriage between a technology company and a new kind of  newsroom. Our goal is to experiment, innovate  and overcome existing obstacles to make it easier for journalists to deliver the transformative stories we all need,” said Omidyar.

The site will launch later this year, covering news and stories from entertainment and sports to politics and business, with original content and curated news.  It will also launch a family of online magazines, with each one dedicated to a specific topic, with its own voice and led by an experienced journalist.

“We’ll bring back to journalism what’s been lost in the critical but expensive support that’s often neglected in the digital age,” said Omidyar.

“We’ll give our journalists everything they need to do their jobs well. The  freedom to travel. Legal protection when they need it. New and innovative technology. And the rarest resource of all – the time and organizational backing to develop their skills,” he added.

In the model,  teams of data analysts, fact checkers, visual designers, editors, and technologists will work together with writers, reporters and producers to “create powerful stories presented in compelling packages”. He added that the outfit would not be a technology team inside a news organization, but a separate technology company.

“This allows us to play with ideas, develop new platforms, and explore ways to turn our innovations into commercial opportunities,” he said. Read his whole note here.

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