The Intercept

The lowdown on the fearless news website
The Intercept

ORGANIZATION SUMMARY

An intrepid journalistic outfit founded in 2014, The Intercept is blazing a trail for what media should be like in the Information Age.
The Intercept
The Intercept Overview ‧ read
Defying threats to journalism, Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald launch new venture The Intercept
With a goal of publishing “fearless, adversarial journalism across a wide range of issues,” The Intercept isn’t your typical news site.

Where mainstream news media is often called out for repackaging corporate PR and government spin, The Intercept sources its stories from leaked documents and its editorials from leading privacy and rights advocates. The site has broken stories on U.S. military drone killings and Obama’s secret terrorist-tracking system—with both scoops coming from whistleblowers.

The coverage in The Intercept is so uncompromising that U.S. military staff are supposedly banned from reading it.

Launched in February 2014, The Intercept’s founding editors are NSA leak journalist Glenn Greenwald, Citizenfour filmmaker Laura Poitras, and investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill. The site is published by First Look Media, a company owned by billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

The people behind The Intercept

The Intercept began as part of a project by billionaire eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to support independent journalists. In a post on The Omidyar Group website in October 2013, Omidyar announced: “I’m in the very early stages of creating a new mass media organization… it will cover general interest news, with a core mission around supporting and empowering independent journalists across many sectors and beats.”

That organization was First Look Media, a tax-exempt charity which Omidyar pledged to support with $250 million per year in funding. In the same post, Omidyar revealed that Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, and Jeremy Scahill were collaborating with him on the new news organization.

When The Intercept launched in February 2014, the editors issued a founding statement declaring: “We are determined to move forward with what we believe is essential reporting in the public interest and with a commitment to the ideal that a truly free and independent press is a vital component of any healthy democratic society.”

… a truly free and independent press is a vital component of any healthy democratic society.

Continuing the fight against NSA surveillance

Given Glenn Greenwald’s involvement in the new publication, it was only natural for The Intercept’s first major stories to continue his coverage of the NSA surveillance revelations. The very first story was about the NSA’s secret role in U.S. drone strikes. A month later, it reported on the NSA’s plan to create a fake Facebook server to infect individuals’ computers with spyware.

The site strives to keep the debate about online privacy at the forefront of people’s minds.

The Interceptors: Who works at The Intercept?

As of December 2016, The Intercept had a staff of over 40 reporters, editors, researchers, and technologists. Here are some of them:

Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief: Reed left her post as executive editor of The Nation to join The Intercept in January 2015. At The Nation, Reed edited many highly regarded pieces of investigative journalism, including Scahill’s book, Blackwater, and Naomi Klein’s work on the BP oil spill.

Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor and columnist: Greenwald left The Guardian—where he broke the news of NSA mass surveillance to the world—to join First Look Media. In response to criticism for leaving an independent news organization for a company funded by a tech tycoon, Greenwald said: “I know in my mind that the minute anybody tries to interfere with what I'm doing, that is the minute I will stop doing it.”

Jeremy Scahill, co-founding editor and senior investigative reporter: Scahill is a journalist and author who began his career at Democracy Now!, where he reported from war zones in Kosovo and Iraq. His book, Blackwater, about the military contracting firm of the same name, was a New York Times bestseller.

The Intercept is ruffling feathers

As you’d expect from a news site devoted to “adversarial” journalism, The Intercept has had its share of controversies.

In August 2014, the FBI started an investigation into how The Intercept got hold of classified documents for its article on the U.S. government’s Terrorist Screening Database. Counterintelligence executive William Evanina said, “No unauthorized leak is routine. It's a criminal act that has us very concerned.”

The Intercept was also the subject of legal action from The Sunday Times in June 2015, when The Intercept called out the UK newspaper’s false claims that Edward Snowden’s leaks had forced British MI6 to “pull agents out of live operations in hostile countries.” Lawyers for The Times demanded images of its front page be removed from the article on The Intercept website, even though they were clearly within the limits of fair use.

Standing up for privacy rights

Although The Intercept has moved past reporting solely about the NSA, it continues to cover important stories about online privacy issues. In late 2015 and early 2016, its writers brought to light the U.S. government’s pressure on tech companies to stop providing unbreakable encryption. This coverage included an interview by Intercept tech analyst Micah Lee with NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who shared some tips on how to reclaim your privacy.

Keep fighting the good fight, Interceptors!