Looks Like Journalism to Me

This is interesting: Pierre Omidyar, the billionaire EBay founder, can run a good paper and is not an asshole. Here’s the account of one of his reporters:

n 2010, Omidyar launched Honolulu Civil Beat, where I took a job as city hall reporter shortly after it launched in March 2010. (Later, I opened the organization’s Washington bureau. I still report semi-regularly for the site.) Media-types routinely ask me what founder Pierre Omidyar is like. Have you actually met him? Does he talk to any of the reporters? Has he even set foot in the newsroom?

To those who have worked at Civil Beat, these are hilarious questions. Of course we know Pierre. He sits in the open newsroom with everybody else, just a couple of feet away from my old desk. When I worked in Honolulu, he was there most days helping the site’s developers write code – Python and Erlang, for those who are keeping track – occasionally chuckling at our newsroom banter, and always eating healthier than anyone else in the room.

[…] Civil Beat was promoted as a new and different type of journalism serving Hawaii, where Omidyar lives.

Really, Civil Beat represented a return to fundamentals: shoe-leather reporting, an emphasis on filing Freedom of Information Act requests and examining public records, close coverage of government spending and campaign finance. […]

I took a look at Civil Beat and I wish my hometown paper was that good.






75 replies
  1. 1
    Belafon says:

    I wonder how many FOIA requests Glenn will be required to file before he quits?

  2. 2
    Betty Cracker says:

    Yes, but Omidyar is a fan of Greenwald, so therefore Omidyar is an Obama-hating, libertarian, PUMA cat lady.

    Just anticipating the response. But seriously, lord knows our current media model isn’t working, so if some billionaire who isn’t an avowed wingnut douche wants to dump a barge-load of cash on an experimental platform, good on him.

    We need good investigative journalism desperately. I can’t say the Greenwald hire gives me much confidence on that score (polemicists we got already), but I’m gonna wait and see how the enterprise shakes out before dismissing it out of hand.

  3. 3
    dpm (dread pirate mistermix) says:

    @Betty Cracker: I share your concern about Greenwald. Scahill is the real deal, though.

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    So is Greenwald going to write for Civil Beat or some other outfit? I confess I don’t really follow that story as closely as others do.

  5. 5
    some guy says:

    PUMA Cat Lady: new band name

  6. 6
    Betty Cracker says:

    @dpm (dread pirate mistermix): Agreed. I wish Omidyar had headlined with him instead of Greenwald, which would have signaled a more serious commitment to investigative journalism. But perhaps the Greenwald emphasis is pure marketing: He has the name recognition and Snowden docs, after all, so it makes sense from that POV.

  7. 7
    Emma says:

    @Betty Cracker: I am hoping there are enough people of Scahill’s caliber in the venture that it will flourish.

  8. 8
    Ash Can says:

    @Betty Cracker: Actually, I wonder if that’s true. It would certainly draw attention to the project, which is what an effective marketing ploy is supposed to do. But I can see that scenario evolving into a Tea Party/GOP quandary: How do you keep your window-dressing in place when he refuses to stay put in the window and instead insists upon running the whole show?

  9. 9
    Elizabelle says:

    Good to hear of Civil Beat. A green shoot.

    Warren Buffett has bought a bunch of newspapers, including recent purchase of 42 Media General properties throughout Virginia and Carolinas, with one in Alabama.

    Buffett now owns the Richmond Times Dispatch.

    Which might be why the reliably conservative RTD did not endorse Cuccinelli for Governor, nor whatzhimname the crazyass for Lt. Governor.

  10. 10
    Neutron Flux says:

    How will this publication differ from ProPublica?

  11. 11
    Elizabelle says:

    @dpm (dread pirate mistermix):

    How long does Greenwald remain anywhere? Maybe Omidyar figured the real prize is Scahill …

  12. 12
    Chyron HR says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    I can’t say the Greenwald hire gives me much confidence on that score

    This is, of course, totally different from “HURR HURR PUMA CAT LADY” because you’re the one saying it.

  13. 13
    HelloRochester says:

    @dpm : What’s your problem with the Democrap and Chronicle (I was digging, but it’s the best I can do)?

  14. 14
    dpm (dread pirate mistermix) says:

    @HelloRochester: Jeez, where to begin. Not enough local reporting. Awful website. Hate the editorial page. etc.

  15. 15
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @some guy: PUMA Cat Lady and the Firebaggers, coming to a small venue near you next year.

  16. 16
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Chyron HR: Apples and anvils.

  17. 17
    Steeplejack says:

    @Elizabelle:

    But they did endorse Mark Obenshain for attorney general. He is as crazy as Cuccinelli, if not worse. WTF?!

    One good sign is that they got reamed in the comments to that editorial.

  18. 18
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Neutron Flux:
    It might not differ all that much from ProPublica. But if one such publication is good, two has got to be better. And if there’s a whole bunch of them not beholden to corporate interests, that’s as good as it gets, n’est-ce pas?

  19. 19
    C.V. Danes says:

    Some of the rich actually did earn their riches, and are not bad people either. Exception, meet rule.

  20. 20
    The Red Pen says:

    Stories I’ll be they’re not covering:

    Hillary Clinton heckled about Benghazi
    Obama faked the recent fainting episode in the rose garden
    Obama making Marines wear girly hats
    100% of Senate Dems Up for Re-Election in 2014 Back Delay of Obamacare Enrollment Deadline

    I’m probably leaving something out here.

    Benghazi!

    (You already said Benghazi)

    Can it ever be said enough?

  21. 21

    @Elizabelle:

    How long does Greenwald remain anywhere? Maybe Omidyar figured the real prize is Scahill …

    Or that the real prize from Greenwald is the publicity surrounding the Snowden documents, and that it will be a good thing when he gets fed up and leaves in a year or two.

  22. 22
    Cacti says:

    GG now has a sugar daddy to help him support more Rand Pauls and Justin Amashes.

    Mistermix has a stiffy over it.

    Glad to see things back to normal here at Libertarian-Juice.

  23. 23
    The Moar You Know says:

    Warren Buffett has bought a bunch of newspapers, including recent purchase of 42 Media General properties throughout Virginia and Carolinas, with one in Alabama.

    @Elizabelle: I’d love to cheer about that but I can’t. I’m on the other end of the stick: a queer-smashing billionaire with a self-proclaimed “pro-business” platform bought every paper save for one weekly in San Diego County, where I reside. If he decides something’s not getting covered, it isn’t getting covered here, period. Not so much an issue with national news but for local news it’s everything – and local news in many ways is far more important for a person’s day-to-day existence than national news is.

    I like Buffett, but I wouldn’t want to live under a one-outlet news regime no matter how awesome the owner is.

  24. 24
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Neat! It’s going to be a damn shame when we execute him along with the rest of them after the glorious revolution.

  25. 25
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    GG now has a sugar daddy to help him support more Rand Pauls and Justin Amashes.

    GG will still shit the bed eventually and write long screeds about Omidyar’s foibles and interference. He’s the Libertarian Keith Olbermann.

  26. 26
    Rex Everything says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Just anticipating the response.

    Which is kinda your gut response anyway; be honest.

  27. 27
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    Serious look, Greenwald, mumble grumble.

    There, that’s out of the way. Who wants to play the pun game?

  28. 28

    @The Moar You Know:

    If he decides something’s not getting covered, it isn’t getting covered here, period.

    By the local papers, sure. But I doubt he can block the LA Times or OC Register from covering it, and they both get enough circulation in San Diego to matter. There are also the local TV stations, which still have some rules preventing excessive concentration of ownership.

  29. 29
    handsmile says:

    Delighted to read here of the enthusiasm/respect for the work of Jeremy Scahill, who ranks with Dana Priest and Jane Mayer among investigative journalists. I don’t recall much discussion hereabouts of his most recent book, Dirty Wars, on covert American military operations, or his frequent articles for The Nation but perhaps I missed those threads.

    Those interested in his new media venture, underwritten by Omidyar, may find informative this interview between Scahill and a German web journalist detailing its creation and mission:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....17614.html

    (n.b. the article’s unfortunately misleading headline should be ignored)

    Also too, BEST MEDIA NEWS OF (my) DAY: Al Jazeera America and Time Warner Cable have announced an agreement that the cable television provider will begin broadcasting the channel. Since AJA’a launch in August, TWC, the second largest cable operator in the US had declined to carry it though it had broadcast Al Jazeera English, now no longer available in this country. AJE, by several orders of magnitude, was the most informative cable news channel and I deeply regret its absence. Fingers and toes crossed that AJA will be a worthy successor.

  30. 30
    Tokyokie says:

    Looks like Civil Beat started up about the time that Gannett unloaded The Advertiser and Black Press rolled it into The Star-Bulletin and shut it down. So there were a lot of suddenly jobless journos available for the effort. Glad to see some of them had a landing place.

  31. 31
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Rex Everything: I’m not sure what you mean: Some folks accuse me of being an Obot; others put me in the firebagger category. Neither is 100% accurate, but I’ll cop to being more Obot than firebagger most days.

  32. 32
    piratedan says:

    @handsmile: I’ve been tuning in occasionally, it’s like the 1980’s they actually just cover stories and report news… refreshingly old school.

  33. 33
    HelloRochester says:

    @dpm (dread pirate mistermix): I was totally being sarcastic. I’ve always thought Rochester’s main disease was boosterism. Everyone who continues to live there is publicly very positive about everything instead of living in the real world and acknowledging that there’s nothing left except great universities and a really bitter and disappearing middle class in the burbs who turn on the poor people in the city. You can’t all work for Paychex and UofR.

  34. 34
    Rex Everything says:

    @Betty Cracker: That’s what I mean. Thanks for copping to it.

    You’re probably the most conscientious Obot on here, but that doesn’t stop you from pretending the facts that (1) Greenwald is an asshole, and (2) his prose sucks, are at all relevant. Why cling to those fig leaves? Your conscientiousness already has the other Obots turning on you like a pack of hyenas. You have nothing to lose by going full firebagger.

  35. 35
    LAC says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger: Seriously… Journalism and accountability to Greenwald is like daylight and garlic to a vampire

    What will the book on that disaster be called ? “EBust: The rise and fall of the GlenNN news?” “E-trayed: Omidyar versus Greenwald”?

  36. 36
    aimai says:

    @Betty Cracker: I love you for just being you.

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Rex Everything:

    You have nothing to lose by going full firebagger.

    Maybe her stance on issues is most accurately represented by the views she expresses. If that is the case, then “going full firebagger” would be dishonest, no? Why make it about teams?

  38. 38
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Betty Cracker: Okay now I’m confused. Your initial post sounded like snarky Greenwald bashing satirizing so many here, but now you and MM are joining in, e..g that he’s not a “serious” investigative journalist. Bizarre. David Gregory of course shares your doubts, but that’s iffy company to be keeping if you ask me.

    For the record, Omidyar is definitely the real deal. A good friend of mine worked for his non-profit networking effort. But then Greenwald is also, it’s mostly Obama worshipers here and at LGF who don’t think so. And of course David Gregory and Dick Cheney.

  39. 39
    some guy says:

    watching the Center-Right BJ regulars getting their panties in a bunge at the mere mention of Greenwald”s name is a feature, not a bug,of Betty Cracker’s rather funny concern trolling

  40. 40
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Betty Cracker: 818 days until charges of Obottery can no longer be leveled. Hopefully, that’ll also be when the Obots go away and firebaggers can just be ordinary assholes.

  41. 41
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Your initial post sounded like snarky Greenwald bashing satirizing so many here, but now you and MM are joining in, e..g that he’s not a “serious” investigative journalist.

    One doesn’t need to be a GlenBot to note the overreaction that the mere mention of Greenwald can inspire. Perhaps all issues can’t be boiled down to some kind of black and white, binary set of options.

  42. 42
    Cacti says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    But then Greenwald is also, it’s mostly Obama worshipers here and at LGF who don’t think so. And of course David Gregory and Dick Cheney.

    Rand Paul, Ron Paul, and Justin Amash totes share your admiration of the Glenn.

  43. 43
    LAC says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: says the Glenn worshipper. Because it is just that simple.

  44. 44

    Hoooo boy I have been having some good times trolling glibertarians with this from Ed Rooksby in Glenzilla’s old haunt, the Guardian yesterday:

    “As paradoxical as it may seem, rightwing libertarianism has always been a deeply authoritarian political philosophy. It claims to value liberty in some general and all-encompassing sense above all other principles, but the particular types of freedom libertarianism seeks to defend and extend are always, tacitly and implicitly, forms of liberty for the few at the expense of the many. Thus libertarianism stands for the unfreedom of the majority.”

    Now, I don’t think that Glennnnn is a rightwing glibertarian. I think that he supports some rightwing glibs, as stated above. I know, I know, that makes me a dead-ender.

  45. 45
    liberal says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Why make it about teams?

    Fair enough. But a lot of the obots here are 100% predictable by a simple rule relating to either Obama’s position on something, or how it affects Obama. Kind of like The New Republic’s position on anything (where “Obama” is replaced by “Israel”). At least in the Marty Peretz days.

  46. 46
    mai naem says:

    When I saw Greenwald had hooked up with Omidyar I was disappointed but not because of Omidyar but because Greenwald had found a sugar daddy in Omidyar. Omidyar is not Meg Whitman or the PayPal nutjob. I remember Terri Gross interviewing him. He’s been involved in some good philanthrophic stuff. He comes across as the real deal. As far as Buffett, he said small town newspapers are a good deal financially right now. I think Buffetts financial decisions are just that – financial.

  47. 47

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    One doesn’t need to be a GlenBot to note the overreaction that the mere mention of Greenwald can inspire.

    On both sides. For everyone who rejects him out of hand, there seems to be somebody who accepts his word uncritically. I think this gets back to what Betty Cracker said about him being less exciting because there is no shortage of polemicists. Greenwald is, at his core, a political advocate, and his political views dominate everything he writes, even when he’s nominally working as a factual reporter. He can be very interesting if you understand that he’s basically writing editorials, but taking his factual pronouncements or legal interpretations at face value is asking to be misled.

  48. 48
    liberal says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    While I tend to be a GG supporter, what you say wouldn’t be surprising insofar as people say he voted for Bush 43…twice.

    Re right-wing libertarians, one of the more original analyses of them I’ve seen has come from Arthur Silber, who has a blog pretty much devoted to the claim that America’s foreign policy is extremely immoral. That aside, his point about right-wing libertarians (whom he had, at least originally, a lot in common with) is that they analyze things in a history- and culture-free context, whereas liberals he knows tend to think of things in an appropriately informative context.

  49. 49

    @liberal: good point re Silber’s view. Thx

  50. 50
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Roger Moore: That pretty much tracks exactly with my view of GG.

    @liberal:

    his point about right-wing libertarians (whom he had, at least originally, a lot in common with) is that they analyze things in a history- and culture-free context, whereas liberals he knows tend to think of things in an appropriately informative context.

    A very astute observation.

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    @handsmile:

    I don’t recall much discussion hereabouts of his most recent book, Dirty Wars, on covert American military operations, or his frequent articles for The Nation but perhaps I missed those threads.

    Oh man. This is first class knife work right here. Kudos.

  52. 52
    Tone in DC says:

    @Herbal Infusion Bagger:

    I see no reason to insult Olbermann like that.

  53. 53
    muddy says:

    The thing that annoys me is that when the Washington Post sends you the daily headlines a great many of them won’t open because they want you to pay first. I don’t think they should offer links that don’t work.

    The NYT lets you open all the articles in their daily headline email, but if you click further on their site, THEN it says it wants you to pay. Fair enough.

    Of course both can be gotten around by googling something in the title and clicking on that, but I still feel they ought not dish up links that don’t initially work. I sent an email to WaPo saying this. Then for weeks it has been fine, and none of these pay links. I remarked about it to my sister (I didn’t think it was due to my email at all!) and she said well, Bezos fixed it, of course.

    Today it is back to having the paylinks. I guess Bezos did not fix after all.

  54. 54
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore:

    but taking his factual pronouncements or legal interpretations at face value is asking to be misled.

    Asking to be misled? His every post allows for the misleading of facts or legal interpretations?

  55. 55
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: says the Glenn worshipper. Because it is just that simple.

    Boom, Bill E Pilgrim! Roasted!

  56. 56
    Corner Stone says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader:

    Hopefully, that’ll also be when the Obots go away and firebaggers can just be ordinary assholes.

    I never knew you were such a pie in the sky dreamer.

    Although I do have to agree with you that the worst of them will immediately disappear come Jan 2017.

  57. 57
    Corner Stone says:

    @Betty Cracker: I feel it’s important to remind that I was the first to be onboard the “you being you” train when your inner heresy was first peeking through here.

  58. 58
    Corner Stone says:

    @a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q):

    PUMA Cat Lady and the Firebaggers, coming to a small venue near you next year.

    This sounds like two bands to me that play similar styles but one is more thrashcore. Maybe:
    This Tuesday night! The Eternal Whole presents “PUMA” !!! With opening act “Cat Lady and The Firebaggers” !!
    Doors open at 8pm.

  59. 59
    ruemara says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: Except Greenwald is not and nobody fucking worships Obama, except in your mind. You can think GG is not a journalist and not really credible without it being because Obama.

  60. 60
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Although I do have to agree with you that the worst of them will immediately disappear come Jan 2017.

    They’ll go back to just being Republicans complaining about “liberal overreach”.

  61. 61
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    @ruemara:

    and nobody fucking worships Obama, except in your mind

    “, said the person most responsible for Obama hagiography in the Balloon Juice comments.

    You seriously can not make this shit up.

  62. 62
    different-church-lady says:

    I went on a small vacation a few weeks ago and had a little realization: real life is too short and too nice to waste it having the same idiotic arguments with strangers over and over and over again.

    And I just thought I’d note that here.

  63. 63
    Baud says:

    @different-church-lady:

    But this time we’ll win, I’m sure of it.

  64. 64
    different-church-lady says:

    @Baud: Winning it is the last thing an internet argument addict wants — because the moment you win, the entire rasion d’etre of the activity ends.

  65. 65
    Higgs Boson's Mate (Crystal Set) says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I’m just becoming accustomed to the simple mindedness of my old age. My only thought about GG’s new job was that Omidyar might have hired him because Greenwald’s name recognition might help to build traffic for the new site.

  66. 66
    different-church-lady says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate (Crystal Set): Flies are attracted to both honey and shit.

  67. 67
    Higgs Boson's Mate (Crystal Set) says:

    @different-church-lady:
    Exactly. Hit counters don’t parse for motive.

  68. 68
    Baud says:

    @different-church-lady:

    That must be why the arguments are usually so bad.

  69. 69
    StringOnAStick says:

    @liberal:

    his point about right-wing libertarians (whom he had, at least originally, a lot in common with) is that they analyze things in a history- and culture-free context, whereas liberals he knows tend to think of things in an appropriately informative context.

    I just wanted to see that one more time, and to praise it for the “history- and culture-free context” point, because it is so, so damned accurate RE: RW libertarians.

  70. 70
    Ken says:

    Living in Honolulu, I have been aware of Civil beat and am not impressed.
    Hawaii is more like a small town then it appears and as such i have been aware of some of the players in some of Civil Beat’s stories and from personal experience their accuracy, slant and “truthiness” are at best questionable.
    They seem to be trying to hit a hipster contrarian tone that, in reality, puts them firmly in the corporist corner.
    As an example.
    They have run with apolagist’s for state Department agent murdering a local at 2 AM at a MacDonalds after being out all night for drinks.
    Their stories on the GMO controversy could have been mistaken as shilling for Monsanto by manner they frame the “questioning” of the opposition’s reality.
    So sorry not buying this as a hope for journalism.
    More of a reversion to the worst of yellow journalism where an editor once famously wired his reporter “you just supply the pictures the (editor) would supply the war”

  71. 71

    Balloon-Juice comments thread:

    Firebagger: Obots go like this derp derp
    Obot: Firebaggers go like this herp a der
    Adults: shut up

  72. 72
    LAC says:

    @Corner Stone: So there is an expiration date for you?

  73. 73
    Rex Everything says:

    @Corner Stone: I enjoyed that too.

  74. 74
    Herbal Infusion Bagger says:

    Greenwald is, at his core, a political advocate, and his political views dominate everything he writes, even when he’s nominally working as a factual reporter.

    Isn’t his prominence now *because* of his political advocacy? Snowden bestowed a Tome of Infinite Headlines on Glenn is ‘cos Snowden sought him out, rather than investigative shoe leather been worn down by Glenn trying to cultivate sources amongst North Virginia Beltway Bandits or diving into archives.

    It’s better to be lucky than smart, but let’s acknowledge that there’s been a great deal of luck on Glenn’s part here.

  75. 75
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Self-Righteous Little White Guy: Do adults also wish death on little children?

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