The news-gathering venture backed by millions from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and involving Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who received leaked NSA documents from Edward Snowden, is set to launch its first publication early next week.
The digital magazine's "initial focus will be in-depth reporting on the classified documents previously provided" by Snowden, according to Omidyar and former Rolling Stone Executive Editor Eric Bates, who posted a brief item about the launch on the First Look Media Web site today. Bates had been previously announced as a First Look team member, along with a handful of others.
The publication will be followed later in the year by several additional digital magazines and a flagship Web site.
The blog item posted Thursday also announces three new crew members: investigative journalist Peter Maass, who's written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and The Washington Post; independent journalist Marcy Wheeler, who blogs about national security and civil liberties at Emptywheel.net; and Scottish journalist Ryan Gallagher, who's focused on surveillance technologies and has written for Slate, The Guardian, The Sydney Morning Herald, and The Financial Times.
Omidyar and Bates said Thursday that though First Look was "still in the midst of building our team and refining our larger editorial vision and strategy," the venture wanted to get started with publishing straightaway, as a counter to "a dramatic escalation in the threats against journalists reporting on the NSA story."
Greenwald has beentweetingrecently about various remarks from US government insiders regarding journalists. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, for instance, suggested during a recent Senate hearing that journalists who've written stories based on the Snowden documents are Snowden's "accomplices." (Snowden is currently wanted by the government under the Espionage Act.)
And Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said after a committee hearing that by publishing reports based on the Snowden material in various publications, Greenwald was selling stolen goods to those publications. Greenwald has scoffed in the past at such an assertion, saying it's a catch-22: If you don't work as a journalist, you lose certain legal protections; but if you work as a journalist -- and, naturally, get paid to do so -- you're accused of selling secrets.
Bates and Omidyar said Thursday that "First Look will uphold the rights of journalists everywhere to report on the sensitive and often controversial information that they learn from sources. We are launching the new site as a public service, committed to reporting on one of the most pressing issues of our time in a transparent and responsible manner."
First Look previously announced that it had brought on AT&T AdWorks vet Michael Rosen as its chief revenue officer and NPR vet Andy Carvin to help First Look "imagine and build new and better ways to engage readers through the innovative use of social media and other digital-age approaches to journalism."
Here's a video that introduces First Look, posted by the venture last week:
Update, 4:06 p.m. PT:Adds details.