Omidyar names editor for Hawaii-based online news service
eBay Inc. founder Pierre Omidyar has tapped the former editor and publisher of the defunct Rocky Mountain News to lead his new Hawaiçi online news service.
John Temple, 56, will become the first editor of the yet-to-be named news operation, which will be launched during the second quarter, Omidyar said at a news conference today.
“We’ve taken a big step today, laying the foundation for Peer News in Hawaiçi,” said Omidyar.
“We’re fortunate to have someone with his background building and leading our news operation.”
Temple headed the 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News, which shut down Feb. 27.
The paper won four Pulitzer prizes and numerous other national awards under his leadership.
During a telephone news conference today, Temple and Omidyar provided few details about the new venture’s business model.
But they did say the news service will operate on a for-profit basis and will focus on public interest and civic matters affecting Hawaiçi’s communities.
Temple noted that the size of the operation will be comparable to online news operations such as the Voice of San Diego, which employs about 13 journalists, and MinnPost in Minnesota, which largely relies on content from outside contributors.
The newsroom will employ a small team of paid journalists but also rely on content generated by local citizen journalists.
Temple said he’s looking to hire an assistant editor and reporters who are tech savvy and have a proven track record in investigative reporting.
“I’ve always said that there’s a critical role for journalism in the public interest that can be best met by a sustainable business model,” said Omidyar.
Alan Mutter, who writes a blog on the news industry called Reflections Of a Newsosaur, said the combination of professional and amateur news gatherers — the so-called “pro-am approach” — has been tried by a number of recent Mainland online news services with little success.
But Mutter, a former newspaper and cable television industry executive, said Temple’s news industry background and Omidyar’s financial backing could change that.
“John is an extremely talented editor who has gotten religion on how the media has to change in this new world,” said Mutter. “If anybody can figure things out, he could do a very good job at it.”