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Honolulu Civil Beat is a for-profit online news organization covering Hawaii.

Civil Beat is a project of Peer News, a company founded in 2008 by eBay founder and chairman Pierre Omidyar and Randy Ching. It was announced in November 2009 and launched in May 2010. It has a staff of 12, initially led by John Temple, former editor of the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News, though he left in April 2012 to become the Washington Post’s managing editor. The organization opened a Washington bureau in summer 2011.

Civil Beat charges for much of its content, a strategy that has drawn some skepticism. The site charges $9.99 for full access, down from its initial fee of $19.99 per month. Access also includes daily email summaries and admission to events. It has also shifted from a hard paywall to a metered model.

Civil Beat specializes in coverage of local and state politics, education, land, and money. The site is oriented toward coverage of issues rather than breaking news, though it does use its Twitter account for breaking-news coverage. It also includes dozens of topic pages on local issues.

Omidyar has said his goal with the site is to “create the new civic square.” To that end, discussion is a central part of Civil Beat’s strategy, with its journalists — called “reporter hosts” — actively participating in comment threads on the site.

In 2013, Civil Beat partnered with The Huffington Post to launch HuffPost Hawaii, a site managed by Civil Beat that would shortened versions of its local coverage as well as cultural coverage aimed at travelers from the U.S. and Japan.

The site also runs the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, which works to help the media and public get access to public information.

Peers, allies, & competitors:
Recent Nieman Lab coverage:
July 24, 2015 / Joseph Lichterman
Trouble in paradise? How the struggles of two Hawaiian paywalls reflect larger industry trends — It was billed as the Pugnacious Polynesian Paywall Punch-Up. Honolulu Civil Beat, a local news site backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, launched in 2010 with an ad-free business model built on digital subscriptions. A...
Feb. 11, 2014 / Joshua Benton
The Pierre Omidyar-backed legal aid clinic wins a public records case in Hawaii — We wrote last fall about how the Hawaii news site Honolulu Civil Beat was spawning a separate legal aid clinic to help the public — or even other news organizations — fight for better records access. (Civil Beat is p...
Oct. 25, 2013 / Mark Coddington
This Week in Review: Demystifying coding for news, and the AP’s firings under fire — What coding skills should journalists learn?: Another round of the ongoing “Should journalists learn to code?” argument sprang up this week, though this iteration yielded some more thoughtful reflections on t...
Oct. 18, 2013 / Mark Coddington
This Week in Review: Greenwald and Omidyar team up, and the blowback against publishing leaks — Glenn and Pierre’s excellent adventure: Glenn Greenwald, the blogger and journalist for The Guardian who led the way in breaking much of the U.S. National Security Agency surveillance news stemming from the Edward...
Oct. 17, 2013 / Adrienne LaFrance
Adrienne LaFrance: What does Pierre Omidyar see in journalism? — People talk about billionaires the way birdwatchers point out rare sightings — wide-eyed and in hushed, anxious tones. Speculation in media circles has been similarly breathless since the news broke Tuesday that billio...

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Primary author: Mark Coddington. Main text last updated: October 2, 2013.
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