Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

OMG! Omidyar's Cartoon About 'First Look Media' Avoids Controversy

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 28, 2014

OMG

EBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar has released a short video about his $250m media venture First Look Media. It doesn't reveal much but I like his plan to create a separate media technology business. I've got a few ideas in that section.

Overall, the video is underwhelming.  Blogging pioneer Dave Winer, tweeted that he was surprised that Omidyar "is building such a cathedral, not a bazaar."

The cartoon format is friendly. I'm looking forward to Glenn Greenwald's depiction, maybe with a touch of Yogi Bear.

I think the venture should be called Omidyar Media Group! (OMG!) because every story it publishes should be OMG! in terms of its quality, research and how it stands out from the rest.

OMG! on staff business cards would constantly remind his journalists and technologists that there is a very high standard to achieve. Otherwise why bother?

It's clear that Omidyar doesn't yet know how the venture will make money but he's willing to experiment. His is a better use of $250m than Jeff Bezos' $250m purchase of the Washington Post.

Bezos possesses a cultural icon, but also a building full of grumbling journalists who have been grumbling for many years about the media business. It's not a platform for leaping off the page and into new types of news ventures.

Omidyar starts with a fresh, clean slate. But it is important for him to set the right culture because it is difficult to change once it gets going.

The video is friendly and cartoon-like, and very unthreatening. Yet his recruitment of Glenn Greenwald, The Guardian columnist best known for his Edward Snowden reports, plus other journalists that have been active on human rights, and other social justice issues, shows a more aggressive editorial direction that plans to take on big issues.

Pierre Omidyar's $250m Journalism Venture Adds To Team - Who Will Cover Silicon Valley?

Bezos says he will be hands-off with The Washington Post but Omidyar looks to be very hands-on so far. That's great but it could become a problem for him, especially in terms of Silicon Valley coverage and tech industry reporting from First Look. He won't be very popular among his fellow billionaires when his reporters start cranking out Silicon Valley stories that need to be written. 

Silicon Valley reporters have forgotten to follow the money -- they follow self-driving cars. His reporters will hopefully, be digging into the money stories and that could bring some heat onto Omidyar. 

What happens if First Look runs investigative articles about Bezos, or Warren Buffett? What if Bezos' Washington Post runs articles related to Omidyar? Similarly with Buffett's newspapers. OMG! We'll have billionaires running exposes on each other. It could get very interesting.

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