When you look at him the first time, you may be confused -- did you see him on the screen somewhere in a Hollywood film? Nope, far from it. In fact, Pierre Omidyar's fantasy tale is bigger than any Hollywood production. A shy Iranian-American, who hit the headlines with his success story of eBay and the grandiloquent deal that went into it, has now set his target on the media world. Investigative journalism, to be precise. And, he is showing a great promise while he is putting the team together.
For starters, Glenn Greenwald of The Guardian, who broke a series of big ticket stories on National Security Agency, revealed by Edward Snowden, has joined hands with Pierre Omidyar to put together this whopping $250 million new media venture.
Why would a loaded geek, deep into Silicon valley dreams, venture out into the media world, especially around the time when media houses are collapsing like a house of cards?
Omidyar has a one word answer. 'Democracy'. The democracy of the United States of America is what compelled him to invest in this medium, and of course, concerns around freedom of press in the U.S. and countries around the world. If this is the baseline ideology, this new venture really holds an olive branch for the sagging self image of the media world.
The interest in media seems to have struck Omidyar some time ago. Just around the time when The Washington Post was up for grabs, that is. He did consider buying it, and procrastinated about it. Eventually, Amazon biggie Jeff Bezos pocketed The Washington Post and Omidyar was left with the thought, which had an organic growth in his mind and eventually culminated into the yet-to-be-named media venture.
In a blog post, Omidyar said the process of contemplation with respect to The Washington Post got him thinking about making a similar investment in an entirely new venture which he could start from scratch. "I thought about what a social impact it would have..." he wrote.
At a time when investigative journalism is witnessing major shifts globally with scams breaking out in all countries and political turbulence is at its worst, and wars being declared, investigative journalism may well be a feasible option for the citizens across the world.
Democracy across the globe is facing global threats with terrorism training its guns on every country, big or small. In such circumstances, free press is obviously staring at more dangerous path ahead than ever before. Economies have crumbled and people are taking to streets demanding change in politics in the middle east countries. Whether it is China, France, Italy or Egypt, the atmosphere is more volatile than ever.
Governments which had a closed door approach are suddenly facing the 'leak' threat with their policy making processes, and secret pacts to hold themselves aloft. The situation needs an intervention that's open, transparent and responsible. Being one of the major pillars of democracy, free press is something that can bring hope to the common people.
In that sense, big investments and fearless reporting can only come from corners that are secure and influential. Media is the only agent for change, and online media has greater reach to people across the globe. This is something that makes the corridors of power, more uncomfortable than what they can handle.
With this, Pierre Omidyar's new venture with its focus on online presence and a battalion of seasoned reporters who have been known for their responsible journalism, upholding the spirit of democracy, an attempt has to be made to hold the fort.
Rightly so, Pierre told New York University Professor Rosen in an interview: "I have always been of the opinion that right kind of journalism is a critical part of democracy."
Way to go, Pierre Omidyar. The world's watching you with bated breath, literally!
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