Trouble at First Look Media

The new media group First Look Media formed by former eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar that hired a group of first-rate independent-minded journalists like Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, Dan Froomkin, and Pater Mass has run into trouble, with charges of extremely poor behavior by upper management being made by departed staffers. The original plan was to create a set of digital magazines serving diverse needs and I had great hopes for this venture as providing a much needed alternative to the government-corporate friendly establishment media.

They first created The Intercept that has produced, and continues to produce, some excellent journalism. The next one to be scheduled to go online was something called The Racket to be edited by Matt Taibbi. The fist sign that things were not all that well behind the scenes was when Taibbi quit and almost the entire staff of The Racket that he was hired to edit were also let go.

Then yesterday, veteran investigative reporter Ken Silverstein also quit and in a series of scathing Facebook posts explained that it was dishonest leadership at the top that caused him to leave. One prominent journalist leaving in disgust could be dismissed as being due to a wrong personality fit. When two leave, that raises prima facie concerns that there may be a real problem. Silverstein raises a very serious charge and I hope it causes some major soul-searching at First Look and that they address it.


  1. funknjunk says

    I am also super interested in this backstory and hope Taibbi spills it all at some point. But the Silverstein posts seem really like a bitter ex-employee rant, and frankly I haven’t read anything of his that impresses me much … My sense of First Look is that, much like Obama rhetoric, people read too much into what Omidyar said at first, and their corporate offices realized after months of building the Intercept, that their intentions were more difficult than they thought. The support of the high level journalism they wanted to do, the legal support that’s required. Look at what they produced so far at the Intercept. It’s pretty unbelievable work. They must be hounded at every turn. They said early on they were going to have a non-profit journalism entity and a for-profit entity that would help pay for the former. Haven’t seen that come about either … it’s likely way more difficult than they originally believed. Would love to hear this story told ….

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