NEW YORK -– Journalists Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras will be working with Glenn Greenwald on a new media venture funded by billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Scahill, a dogged investigative journalist who focuses on national security, and Poitras, a filmmaker who has extensively covered surveillance issues, had already been in discussions with Greenwald about starting a venture together when Omidyar approached with a similar vision for a new media outlet, sources said.
The Washington Post reported Tuesday night that Poitras and Scahill may be potential “hires” at the new site. But according to sources, they were already in talks with Greenwald about working together and are not only now being recruited for the venture.
It’s not surprising that Greenwald, Scahill and Poitras would team up on a site, given shared concerns about surveillance, civil liberties, and the extent of U.S. military operations abroad.
Poitras was the first to make contact with former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. She received the leaked documents along with Greenwald, who has led coverage of the story for The Guardian. Poitras, who has been instrumental in the NSA reporting, also filmed Snowden’s only on-camera interview for The Guardian, which was conducted by Greenwald.
Greenwald and Scahill have already been collaborating on NSA coverage, too.
During a recent screening of his film “Dirty Wars” in Rio de Janeiro, where Greenwald lives, Scahill said the two journalists were “working on a project right now that has at its center how the National Security Agency plays a significant, central role in the U.S. assassination program.”
BuzzFeed first reported Tuesday afternoon that Greenwald was leaving The Guardian for a new venture, which he described as as “very substantial new media outlet.” The site won't only focus on national security issues, but is also expected to cover general interest topics, such as entertainment and sports.
On Tuesday night, Reuters reported that Omidyar was backing the still-unnamed site.
Omidyar, a philanthropist worth around $8.5 billion, founded Honolulu Civil Beat and is an advocate for greater government transparency. He's closely followed Greenwald's work on the NSA story, as evidenced by his Twitter feed.
Omidyar's Civil Beat partnered last month with The Huffington Post to launch HuffPost Hawaii. During an interview pegged to the launch, Omidyar spoke about his concerns with surveillance following the NSA revelations.
“Can we be truly free if we are surveilled all the time, if we have no privacy?" he asked. "I think that’s a really important debate to have.”