Magnifying glass
Credit: By Julo (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
First Look Media is to launch a new website investigating corporate and political corruption in the US, led by former Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi.

The news organisation created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyra announced its first site, The Intercept, in February.

Run by Glen Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill, the blog reports on the Edward Snowden revelations as well as other other national security issues around the world.

Speaking at the recent London Social Media Summit, Andy Carvin, who according to his LinkedIn profile is an editor at First Look Media, said: "Our goal is to create this family of sites where the journalists are given extraordinary opportunities to go down whatever rabbit hole they think is useful to cover a story, and hold powerful institutions to account."

The as-yet-unnamed site is due to launch later this year, drawing on Taibbi's wealth of experience reporting on Wall Street.

Carvin, who previously worked as a journalist at NPR for almost seven years, also said that one of his particular areas of interest was applying social data to journalism.

"Many news organisations have become quite good at mining various forms of data, to do investigative journalism, but what would happen if you applied that to real-time journalism?" he asked.

He pointed to an experiment he had carried out after the Boston bombing, which looked at the Twitter account of one of the accused bombers Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

"We took a look at all the people he was following on Twitter... and who they were following on Twitter, and we were able to create this network map using the software that sociologists use to see the different connections between the different people.

"Unfortunately we didn't do this experiment until [long] after the Boston bombing, because if we'd done it [soon afterwards] it would have been greatly useful for us, in terms of who we were going to interview that day and how we were going to plan our sourcing."

Another plan in the pipeline is for First Look to launch a technology business to develop new tools for journalists, in order to support its non-profit investigative journalism.

He noted that while it is now common for newsrooms to call upon its audience to get involved in the process of reporting, for example, through crowdsourcing, there was still a lack of innovation in technology that would make it simpler for the public to engage with news outlets.

"Of course you have many news organisations that allow users to submit content directly to their websites with mobile phones.

"But those types of technologies have been around for the last five years. So there has been incremental innovation, but haven't seen much of a game-changer yet".

He referred to Storyful as "a unique case" in terms of what they are doing to provide a service for newsrooms to get access to – and verify – user-generated videos.

However, speaking to Journalism.co.uk, Carvin also said he was interested in platforms such as Storify, describing it as "a great tool for archiving social media".

"Can we come up with new ways of presenting social that's much more dynamic and feels like the way it felt when things first happened?" he asked.

"Or can we build tools that make it easier to connect the dots between users among themselves and the flow of rumours online, tracking points of origin of those things?

"There's all sorts of stuff that you could potentially develop."

Carvin also said that people should continue to pay attention to The Intercept, adding that "the Snowden story has not played itself out yet and there are still some very interesting things to come”.

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