For months, I’ve been stating the glaringly obvious: That Pierre Omidyar, the sole investor and founder of First Look Media, has ultimate responsibility for the editorial direction of the company.
In response, Omidyar and other First Look staffers have insisted that Omidyar — who has close ties to the Obama White House — has zero influence over sites like The Intercept, publisher of many — but not all — of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks.
While it might seem obvious that a guy paying $250m to hire journalists might want to make sure he can hire or fire them if he becomes displeased with First Look’s editorial direction, Omidyar has always refused to confirm where he sits in the chain of command.
Is he purely an investor like those who put money into other media companies (for example, Pando has received around $4m in total investor from a number of venture backers. We have an absolute ban on any investor being involved in the editorial process, and we have no venture capitalists on our board)?
Or is he de-facto editor in chief (in which case, readers should probably ask how that role sits alongside his involvement in influencing US foreign policy, and foreign elections)?
Today, finally, we have an answer. The Columbia Journalism Review (which is backed in part by Omidyar Network) confirms the following editorial chain of command, in a piece written by the excellent Dean Starkman:
“The Intercept” is edited by former Gawker editor John Cook… Cook reports to Eric Bates, a former Rolling Stone editor who holds the title of executive editor of First Look… Bates in turn reports to [John] Temple [president of audience and products]… reporting to Omidyar.”
So there you have it. The person ultimately in charge of hiring and firing the editorial staff at First Look Media is Pierre Omidyar, who is also their sole investor, who is also a good friend of the Obama White House.
Who’da thought it?