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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.
Bayosphere was a short-lived user-driven local news site in San Francisco. Bayosphere was launched in 2005 by former San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor and Michael Goff and received investment funding from Mitch Kapor and the Omidyar Network. Gillmor shut the site down in January 2006, and the site was bought later that year…