By: Spencer Kennedy
Earlier this week, big news came from the media industry in the form of an announced partnership between Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian and eBay’s Pierre Omidyar. Greenwald gained notoriety this past summer serving as the main connection between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and The Guardian. While heavily criticized by government officials and others in the industry, many have admired Greenwald’s bold and arguably democratizing approach to journalism. Omidyar, with a billionaire status to prove his eBay efforts, has become less involved with his company over the years and is well known for his more recent work as a philanthropist. The match, deemed a “happy coincidence”, seems perfect for the kind of work that both men hope to accomplish and that many view as desperately needed.
This is exciting news for a newspaper industry that is experiencing problems in the way of finance, viewership, and content quality. While Omidyar’s ability to fund his own eccentric media outlet does not necessarily help the economic structure of the industry, it definitely opens up new doors for readers who believe hardball journalism has been all but lost. The general goal – still in development – is to provide an “online space for independent journalists” that would not be a niche product, but will aim to cover at least sports, business, entertainment, and technology.
Of course, not everyone supported Greenwald’s work with Snowden this past summer, claiming it a threat to national security. Depending on the direction and scale of the new project, there may be a lot of similar criticisms to be had. Omidyar and Greenwald, who will be working of course with other like-minded journalists and figures, will have to find a balance between their free, watchdog press and concerns over national security issues. Their work, as important and influential as it may be, will surely take some fire from both sides – the government and other news groups.
Needless to say, I am excited to follow this developing story, and you should also. Not much is set in stone other than the two’s ambitious goal to provide free press in an era of sensitive information and communication policies, but you can be sure that the resulting product will have profound effects. Whether the outcome is wholly beneficial or partially threatening, this will hopefully be a big step in the right direction for the media industry. Stay tuned.