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11 March 2014

John Cook, Gawker Editor, Joins The Intercept

First Look Media Adds Editor of Gawker


MARCH 10, 2014


First Look Media, the online news venture backed by the technology billionaire Pierre M. Omidyar, is adding John Cook, the editor of Gawker, to its growing stable of journalists, the publication announced on Monday.

The project became public in October with the news that Mr. Omidyar would initially invest $250 million and was bringing in the national security reporters Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill. In December, Mr. Omidyar’s organization said he had already made “an infusion of $50 million.”

Mr. Cook will become the editor in chief of The Intercept, a digital magazine introduced in February and currently edited by Mr. Greenwald, Mr. Scahill and Ms. Poitras.

The magazine has been focused on reporting on the disclosures about government surveillance exposed by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Administration contractor, which is a story that Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras previously reported on for The Guardian and other publications.

Mr. Cook’s hiring was first reported by ReCode. Over time, Mr. Cook said in an interview, The Intercept will broaden its mission to more generally cover national security and criminal justice.

He said his mission was to make sure the reporting was read, that the magazine “doesn’t limit our audience to preaching to the choir.” And, he added, “hopefully it’s not boring.”

Mr. Cook’s hiring is the latest in a series of notable additions to First Look’s staff, including the Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi, who will be running his own digital magazine.

Like Mr. Taibbi, who has built a reputation as a brash and determined critic of Wall Street, Mr. Cook has enjoyed sparring directly with the subjects of his reporting, particularly Roger Ailes and Fox News. Mr. Cook shepherded the “Fox mole,” whose behind-the-scenes dispatches from inside the network in 2012 were popular on Gawker. (The mole was revealed to be an associate producer on “The O’Reilly Factor,” and was promptly fired.)

“We are trying to build an operation that takes risks,” said Mr. Cook of his and Mr. Taibbi’s hirings.

“To find stories that pick fights and pick the right fights. The model is to be adversarial and fierce and aggressive — and yes, that is on purpose.”