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Threat to press freedom prompted eBay billionaire to commit $250 million to new journalism organisation

By Darren Boyle

Glenn Greenwald’s new media organisation will be entirely independent despite being bankrolled by Pierre Omidyar, the eBay billionaire has claimed.

Writing on his own blog, Omidyar confirmed he approached the former Guardian journalist after he failed to buy the Washington Post. He said he has a commitment to “preserve and strengthen the role journalism plays in society”.

According to Omidyar: “That process got me thinking about what kind of social impact could be created if a similar investment was made in something entirely new, built from the ground up. Something that I would be personally and directly involved in outside of my other efforts as a philanthropist.”

The Guardian reports that Omidyar will put $250 million behind the new venture that still does not have a name.

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He said: “What I can tell you is that the endeavor will be independent of my other organisations, and that it will cover general interest news, with a core mission around supporting and empowering independent journalists across many sectors and beats. The team will build a media platform that elevates and supports these journalists and allows them to pursue the truth in their fields. This doesn’t just mean investigative reporting, but all news.”

Omidyar continued: “As part of my learning process, I recently reached out to Glenn Greenwald to find out what journalists like him need to do their jobs well. As it turns out, he and his colleagues Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, were already on a path to create an online space to support independent journalists. We had a lot of overlap in terms of our ideas, and decided to join forces.

“I believe that independent journalists like Glenn, Laura, and Jeremy play an important role in our society. We’ll be working with them and others, but we have a long way to go in terms of what the organisation looks like, people’s roles and responsibilities — all of those things still need to be worked out.”

According to Jay Rosen Professor of Journalism at NYU, Greenwald, Poitras and Scahill had decided to join the new organisation on 5 October although news leaked online yesterday.

Rosen said that a "final factor" in deciding to launch the new venture was "rising concern about press freedom in the US and around the world".


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