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The smell of money burning: trying to build a tower from the top down

The Intercept is funded by First Look Media’s nonprofit arm. It has delivered regular hard-hitting stories since its launch February 2014. “You can think of The Intercept as our version of ProPublica,” says Bloom, referring to another nonprofit that supports investigative public interest journalism. First Look’s nonprofit arm also supports its only other media property, a small experimental project called 'The idea is that it is important work. We think we have a way to make it a sustainable property.' Michael Bloom, First Look Media President In addition to running this operation, Omidyar has charged Bloom with building a companion for-profit business that will support the entire enterprise. Bloom envisions building what he calls “the world’s leading platform for the most compelling independent voices.” He believes the future includes all manner of media—videos, photos, shorter posts, podcasts. He’ll broaden the scope of the company to include “arts, culture, media, entertainment, possibly even comedy and sports.” Any voice, he explains, that’s outside of the mainstream. By this, he means that First Look is well-positioned to support the creators of counterculture: activists and artists with strong opinions of any sort—right or left—who seek to express those opinions through media. It stems from Omidyar’s feverish belief in the importance of supporting free speech. Bloom anticipates that First Look will meet directly with media creators to figure out what they need and help them with it, much like a literary agent helps its authors, say, or the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz supports its entrepreneurs. If they need an editor, First Look will offer it. If they need a video studio, say, or office space, done. “We’re going to produce content for our own platforms and for others,” he says. “The HBOs, Netflixes, Hulus of the world.” The objective is to give writers, filmmakers, and producers the place and tools they need to “create their most ambitious work,” and then help them build and make money off of their audiences. It’s not clear just how First Look will do this yet—perhaps advertising or subscription or partnerships with other media companies—but Bloom reminds me that he’s very early in his tenure. He won’t go into the specifics of how he plans to execute this, though he says we’ll begin to see new products starting this fall.
It takes a certain kind of personal-injury lawyer to look at the facts of this glittering night and wrest from them a plausible plaintiff and defendant, unless it were possible for Travis Hughes to be sued by his own anus. But the fraternity lawsuit is a lucrative mini-segment of the personal-injury business, and if ever there was a deck that ought to have had a railing, it was the one that served as a nighttime think tank and party-idea testing ground for the brain trust of the Theta Omicron Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega and its honored guests—including these two knuckleheads, who didn’t even belong to the fraternity.
City documents indicate the projected cost is roughly $10.9 million in federal grant funding. To date, $3.4 million in federal grants has been spent on the project. As planned, the center would integrate computer dispatch systems for the Oakland police and fire departments, gunshot detection microphones and license-plate readers. It includes use of crime mapping software and stationary video cameras, private alarm detection programs, Twitter feeds, news feeds and other alerts for increased “situational awareness” and “more effective incident response,” according to Baig, who briefed the City Council’s Public Safety Committee this month.  Key to the operation is a geographic information system map with overlaid points that represent cameras, license-plate readers, sensors and other infrastructure that feeds into the central network. Multiple camera feeds, sensor indicators and maps can be viewed simultaneously on-screen alongside alerts from other government agencies. Alarms, crime reports and trends in offenses are accessible through a “Crime View” portal.