Glenn Greenwald Will Leave Guardian To Create New News Organization

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Above: Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro in July. Sergio Moraes / Reuters

The story was originally broken by Buzzfeed in the story below.  Reuters now reports the funding will come from the founder of eBay — see report below.

The reporter who broke the NSA story promises “a momentous new venture.” A “very substantial new media outlet” with serious backing, he says.

Update: Wash Post claims the new outlet is seeking to hire Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill.   They have not commented.

Glenn Greenwald, the lawyer and blogger who brought The Guardian the biggest scoop of the decade, is departing the London-based news organization, for a brand-new, large-scale, broadly focused media outlet, he told BuzzFeed Tuesday.

Greenwald, 46, published revelations from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of American and British domestic spying and about officials’ deception about its scope. He said he is departing for a new, “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity” with major financial backing, the details of which will be public soon.

“My partnership with The Guardian has been extremely fruitful and fulfilling: I have high regard for the editors and journalists with whom I worked and am incredibly proud of what we achieved,” Greenwald said in an emailed statement. “The decision to leave was not an easy one, but I was presented with a once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity that no journalist could possibly decline.”

Greenwald said that because the news had leaked “before we were prepared to announce it, I’m not yet able to provide any details of this momentous new venture.” It will, he said, “be unveiled very shortly.”

Guardian spokeswoman, Jennifer Lindenauer, also stressed that the writer and his news organization are parting on good terms — though she said The Guardianis “disappointed” to lose him.

“Glenn Greenwald is a remarkable journalist and it has been fantastic working with him,” Lindenauer said in an email. “Our work together over the last year has demonstrated the crucial role that responsible investigative journalism can play in holding those in power to account. We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”

The Guardian, with a tradition of rigorous, crusading, liberal reporting and experience with two extremely sensitive international investigative stories — WikiLeaks and the News Corp. phone-tapping scandals — was in some ways a perfect home for Greenwald’s reporting, which in turn offered a huge boost to The Guardian’s American and global prestige.

But Greenwald never functioned as a typical employee of a news organization. He told BuzzFeed in August that he had not shared all of Snowden’s files with The Guardian, and that “only [filmmaker] Laura [Poitras] and I have access to the full set of documents which Snowden provided to journalists.” The Guardian, facing intense pressure from the British government, has continued to publish Snowden’s revelations at a deliberate pace in recent weeks; but Greenwald has moved more quickly on his own, publishing stories in Brazil and India. He said recently that he will also publish stories soon in Le Monde.

Greenwald declined to comment on the precise scale of the new venture or on its budget, but he said it would be “a very well-funded … very substantial new media outlet.” He said the source of funding will be public when the venture is officially announced.

Politico reported later Tuesday that a “philanthropist” would fund the venture. A spokesman for George Soros, perhaps the most famous philanthropist of the American left, ruled Soros out as the backer. “They have had no contact,” Soros spokesman Michael Vachon said of Greenwald.

“My role, aside from reporting and writing for it, is to create the entire journalism unit from the ground up by recruiting the journalists and editors who share the same journalistic ethos and shaping the whole thing — but especially the political journalism part — in the image of the journalism I respect most,” he said.

Greenwald will continue to live in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, he said, and would bring some staff to Rio, but the new organization’s main hubs will be New York City; Washington, D.C.; and San Francisco, he said.

The venture, which he said had “hired a fair number of people already,” will be “a general media outlet and news site — it’s going to have sports and entertainment and features. I’m working on the whole thing but the political journalism unit is my focus.”

Greenwald said he looked forward to creating a new organization with “no preexisting institutional strictures on what you can do.”

And he said his move is driven solely by the opportunity presented.

“When people hear what it is, there is almost no journalist who would say no to it,” he said.

Pierre Omidyar, chairman and founder of eBay Inc., speaks during a television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. Reuters reports that Omidyar is the man backing Glenn Greenwald's new media venture. | Getty

Pierre Omidyar, chairman and founder of eBay Inc., speaks during a television interview in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2010. Reuters reports that Omidyar is the man backing Glenn Greenwald’s new media venture. | Getty

Greenwald exits Guardian for new Omidyar media venture

 By Mark Hosenball
Reuters, Oct 15, 2013

Glenn Greenwald, who has made headlines around the world with his reporting on U.S. electronic surveillance programs, is leaving the Guardian newspaper to join a new media venture funded byeBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to people familiar with the matter.

Greenwald, who is based in Brazil and was among the first to report information provided by one-time U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, wrote in a blog post on Tuesday that he was presented with a “once-in-a-career dream journalistic opportunity” that he could not pass up.

He did not reveal any specifics of the new media venture but said details would be announced soon. Greenwald did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Two sources familiar with the new venture said the financial backer was Omidyar. It was not immediately clear if he was the only backer or if there were other partners.

Omidyar could not immediately be reached for comment.

Omidyar, who is chairman of the board at eBay Inc but is not involved in day-to-day operations at the company, has numerous philanthropic, business and political interests, mainly through an investment entity called the Omidyar Network.

Forbes pegged the 46-year-old Omidyar’s net worth at $8.5 billion.

Among his ventures is Honolulu Civil Beat, a news website covering public affairs in Hawaii. Civil Beat aimed to create a new online journalism model with paid subscriptions and respectful comment threads, though it is unclear how successful it has been.

Omidyar, a French-born Iranian-American, also founded the Democracy Fund to support “social entrepreneurs working to ensure that our political system is responsive to the public,” according to its website.

Omidyar’s active Twitter account suggests he is very concerned about the government spying programs exposed by Greenwald and Snowden.

The former NSA contractor was granted asylum in Russia on August 1. He is living in a secret location beyond the reach of U.S. authorities who want him on espionage charges because he leaked the details of top-secret electronic spying programs to the media.

“There goes freedom of association: NSA collects millions of e-mail address books globally,” Omidyar tweeted on Tuesday, pointing to a new Washington Post story based on Snowden documents.

Jennifer Lindauer, a spokeswoman for the Guardian, said in a statement posted on Greenwald’s site: “We are of course disappointed by Glenn’s decision to move on, but can appreciate the attraction of the new role he has been offered. We wish him all the best.”

The news of Greenwald’s departure from the Guardian was reported earlier by Buzzfeed.

(Additional reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York and Jonathan Weber in San Francisco; Editing by Tiffany Wu and Grant McCool)