Omidyar’s Latest Effort to “Reimagine Capitalism” — Funding Intrepid Journalists
By Connie Matthiessen
Since its founding, the Omidyar Network has taken an unconventional approach to philanthropy.
EBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife, Pamela, have mapped out a unique path for the organization, and one that other mega donors have followed to some extent. Its hybrid structure was unusual when it was initially rolled out — encompassing a 501(c)(3) and an LLC — but since then, other philanthropies have adopted similar models. ON’s mission, too, resists easy classification; its issue areas include education, global development, racial equity and justice, the arts, and workers’ rights, among other causes. In recent years, Omidyar Network (ON) has worked to strengthen democracy by supporting “civic tech,” and critiqued and sought fixes for both the tech sector and capitalism itself.
With its recently launched Reporters in Residence program, ON is once again building outside the box. Journalism isn’t a unique funding area for philanthropy, of course. As IP pointed out in our State of American Philanthropy brief “Giving for Journalism and Public Media,” “Support for nonprofit journalism outlets has steadily increased in the past 15 years, as funders sought to address gaps in local and investigative reporting arising from for-profit outlets’ aggressive cost-cutting and consolidation measures.” IP has also reported on funders’ support for journalists of color, science journalism and fellowships on healthcare and more. ON and Pierre Omidyar himself have had a long-term interest in journalism. His organization, First Look Media, is the parent company of the investigative news outlet The Intercept.