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Friday, October 31, 2014
NYT: Omidyar In Waaaay Over His Head in Journalism Endeavors
By Selected News Articles @ 8:48 PM :: 6806 Views :: First Amendment, Pierre Omidyar

At First Look Media, Personalities Prove Tough to Manage

by Ravi Somaiya and Noam Cohen, New York Times, October 31, 2014

When First Look Media, the journalism enterprise backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre M. Omidyar, started about a year ago, its mission was clear.

Mr. Omidyar would personally invest $250 million to build a company that would hold the powerful accountable. He paid lavishly to recruit adversarial reporters like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, who had received classified documents from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden, and Matt Taibbi, who used a piercing wit and deep reporting to skewer most of Wall Street during his time at Rolling Stone magazine.

And then Mr. Omidyar tried to manage them.

Mr. Taibbi abruptly left First Look this week without ever writing a story. On Thursday, an unusual article appeared on The Intercept, a First Look-owned site started by Mr. Greenwald and others. It described a power struggle inside First Look between Silicon Valley executives “and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain.”

Mr. Omidyar, according to people with knowledge of internal discussions at First Look who spoke on condition of anonymity, seemed not to realize what he had gotten into by hiring so many aggressive and competitive journalists and then trying to manage them largely from his home in Hawaii, with only sporadic visits to First Look’s offices....

The nearly 2,000-word article described Mr. Omidyar as a micromanager who personally approved reporters’ expenses and imposed a three-month hiring freeze just as they were building their staffs....

Paul Carr, the editorial director of PandoDaily, a Silicon Valley news site, published part of an off-the-record conversation in which Mr. Taibbi accused Mr. Omidyar of editorial interference....

New York magazine, which broke the news of Mr. Taibbi’s departure, plans to run a longer story on the dispute next week.  It will, the magazine said, describe Mr. Omidyar as “mild-mannered” and “looking for a way to spend his time and fortune.” .... (UPDATE: Link to new NY Mag story.)

“The naïveté of trying to construct something around very irascible personalities is coming to the front,” said Rafat Ali, the co-founder of Skift....

Mr. Omidyar’s $250 million investment matched the amount that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, paid for The Washington Post in August....

read ... Omidyar Falls Short of Bezos -- Again!

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