Pierre Omidyar, eBay founder and philanthropist, held a press conference this morning to talk a little bit more about his new venture Peer News. And by a little– I mean very little.
The news was that John Temple former editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News, will be taking over the role of editor and moving to Honolulu and the service will be launching early in the second quarter of this year. And good news journalism grads: They’re hiring!
The idea behind Peer News is to reinvent local, civic-minded journalism in a profitable way. It’s a big hole and a big problem– something Temple knows well. The Rocky Mountain News ceased publication about a year ago after some 150 years in business.
So far Omidyar and Temple are playing their cards incredibly close to the vest. They won’t disclose business model details, the scope of the organization, what form it will take or even what name they’ll do business under. The only thing we do know is the site will be almost totally Hawaii-focused, which would seemingly restrict the money they could make from traditional online ad revenues where the size of audience means everything.
But Omidyar stressed in the call that they’d be paying staff “what they are worth” and building a sustainable business. Either he’s got a great idea none of us have thought of or this will be a frenzy of business model trial-and-error. Either way it’ll be fun to watch and given Omidyar’s star power, plenty of people will be watching.”You shouldn’t assume that traditional models that have worked for the print would should preside in the online world,” Omidyar said when pressed for details for the millionth time during the Q&A. “I have a different view.”
I’m going to Honolulu in March and Omidyar and I are supposed to be getting together, so stay tuned for more details. Meantime, to apply for a job, go here.