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April 14, 2014, 5:13 p.m.
LINK: firstlook.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Caroline O'Donovan   |   April 14, 2014

John Cook, editor in chief of The Intercept, responded to a Pando Daily piece that posited the site had suddenly gone silent after its launch in February.

Cook writes that the magazine will continue to publish NSA stories, but will otherwise hold back on publishing until they resolve “questions about the site’s broader focus, operational strategy, structure, and design.”

In a very Denton-esque maneuver, Cook then opened the comments to readers, saying he’d be available all afternoon to answer questions about plans for the digital magazine.

Regarding their publishing schedule and content formats, he writes:

We will be publishing a wide variety of stories — short, fast posts to keep the site alive to the news and lengthy reported narratives to devote attention to stories that need to be told, and all manner of story in between. And we will definitely be working with filmmakers — already are, in fact — to find ways to tell these stories beyond just blocks of text.

On who he’s looking to hire:

Not white. Not male. Fast. Interested in reporting as a live, iterative process that plays out on the internet as well as one where you go away for six weeks and come back with 4,000 words. Eager to make a name for themselves. Beat-wise, intelligence and national security are obviously important to us at the initial stages, but I’m more interested in good capable people who can apply their skills to all manner of stories than subject-area experts.

On tone:

Long term, I want the site to be identified more by the posture that Glenn, Laura, and Jeremy exemplify — aggressive, honest, impolite when necessary, and unburdened by the institutional norms that govern the behavior of so many reporters at major establishment news organizations — than any menu of beats or subject areas.

On coverage:

We will definitely have international coverage. Not so sure about bureaus in the short term.

On user experience and commenting:

It’s a high priority, but it’s not likely to be the first thing to get changed. We really want a good commenting system and we’re working on it. But the first-order priority is getting the site design where it needs to be and getting the editorial structure in place to be a rolling, live operation. But yes, comments are desperately in need of improvement.

On matters of church and state:

My position is that we have publicly been guaranteed complete editorial independence (https://firstlook.org/about/). Any interference in our editorial work would be an abrogation of that agreement. I have every expectation that it will be honored. Our credibility comes from the work we have done and will do, not from our financial backer.

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