In the interview with Kontext TV Jeremy Scahill talks about the new media venture with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and the worldwide war on journalism. The whole interview with Scahill is going to be online (www.kontext-tv.de) on October 25, 2013.
Jeremy Scahill: National Security correspondent of "The Nation", author of "Dirty Wars. The World Is a Battlefield" and the New York Times best-selling book "Blackwater. The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army". Scahill received the Georg Polk Award.
David Goessmann: We have just learned that you, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, an acclaimed filmmaker also involved in the NSA story, want to join forces. What can you tell us about this new media venture funded by e-bay founder Pierre Omidyar.
Jeremy Scahill: Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and I have been discussing for some time trying to start our own website or news organization and we were just getting to the stage where we were thinking about how would we structure it, what would the mission of it be, how would we fund it, who would we beg for money and what kinds of reporting we wanted to see done. And I was actually in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where Glenn Greenwald lives and we were discussing this and Glenn got an e-mail from a mutual friend of Pierre’s and Glenn’s and he said, „You know Pierre is going to start a new media organization and he wants to talk to you guys contributing. Maybe articles or columns or ...". So Glen had this initial conversation with Pierre and his vision what he wanted to build was exactly in line with what we wanted to do and so we joined forces with him. It wasn’t that we went to him and asked him to fund us, he didn’t come to us and asked us to hire us, it was that we decided to join forces with him. You know he is one of the wealthiest people in the world but he also has an incredibly clear vision of what independent media should look like that it should have an adversarial relation with the state, that the role of journalists is to hold those in power accountable and to provide the public with information they can use to form decisions of which policies to support and which policies to oppose which is our mission in life as journalists as well. And we are incredibly excited about the project because all three of us are journalists to the core and what we believe in is journalist driven journalism not in big bureaucracies that stifle the production of stories. I don’t know where we are going to be in a year but I am really excited about the journey we are going to go on.
David Goessmann: Why are independent media so important regarding what you call the "criminilazation of journalists" in the US right now?
Jeremy Scahill: There is a war against journalism around the world not just in the U.S. In Mexico journalists are murdered every week, in Somalia journalists are being killed in huge numbers, in Syria journalists are missing, journalists are in prison and beaten across the world and in the U.S. we have a president who won the Nobel Peace Prize, who is a constitutional lawyer by training and he is prosecuting whistleblowers in record numbers. They are monitoring the meta data of journalists trying to figure out who they are talking to, going after sources. And we also have a media culture in the U.S. which is totally bankrupt and it is driven by corporate advertising and corporations control huge parts of the process of disseminating information. So to be able to build an organization that doesn’t depend on ad revenue, that doesn’t depend on state sponsorship is a tremendous opportunity. Everyone is struggling around the world with how to build, fund, sustained independent media and we are all looking at new and innovative models but I feel like we sort of hit the jackpot in terms of the ability to move forward with building an actually independent news organization without fear and run by people who believe in taking the fight to those in power in terms of holding them accountable and provide people with independent information not state sponsored propaganda.