For its first years, John Temple was editor of Honolulu Civil Beat, a news organization for which eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is still the publisher and CEO. Omidyar is funding Glenn Greenwald’s new journalism venture; “I have always been of the opinion that the right kind of journalism is a critical part of our democracy,” he told Jay Rosen. (Omidyar is not doing any other interviews, a spokesperson told Poynter in an email.)
Omidyar was “in the newsroom almost every day,” Temple, now a senior fellow at the John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program at Stanford University, said in a phone call with Poynter. He was also “very involved with writing the code for the site.” Civil Beat’s office was open, Temple said, with no offices, so Omidyar was part of daily discussions.
“He’s got a journalist’s sensibility,” Temple said. “He enjoyed the hunt for a story, and he’s very open to experimenting with how to tell the story and using contemporary approaches.” That said, Omidyar “gives you the space to do your job.”
I asked Temple, who edited the Rocky Mountain News and was a managing editor at The Washington Post after he left Civil Beat, about whether it was more in Omidyar’s character to build a news organization from scratch or buy a legacy one, as Jay Rosen reported he had considered doing with the Post. “It is much more in his character to build and innovate than it is to transform,” Temple said. “He could have bought the paper in Honolulu, for example.”