What’s in a name?

Just what does a digital magazine actually look like? They so frequently come as what a friend of mine once termed ‘those flicky-pagey-turney-things’ that it might take a while to adjust to The Intercept.

Launched a little over a week ago by a founding team that includes Glenn Greenwald, one of the award-winning journalists behind the Edward Snowden/NSA stories, it arrived with a mission “to provide aggressive and independent adversarial journalism”.

With an initial focus on stories based on the US security documents Snowden leaked, it’s very much a product of a post-Manning/Snowdon world, down to security measures like how to securely and anonymously share files with its journalists.

The first of an expanding stable of ‘digital magazines’ from eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s news organization First Look Media, The Intercept‘s challenge will be to break into, or inform, the mainstream media and gain a profile that’s equal to the size of its ambitions:

A primary function of The Intercept is to insist upon and defend our press freedoms from those who wish to infringe them.

In this day and age of virally-targeted cynicism the idea of ‘public service journalism’ is an inspiring move and there has also been praise for its targeted focus, though this kind of narrow topic view is most often seen in blogs.

So is it – as styled – a digital magazine or a blog or a news website … and, as the borders between once-separate types of content blur, does it even matter?

Maybe. The ambitions of First Look Media, which “seeks to re-imagine journalism for the digital age”, extend to bringing its ‘digital magazine’ concept to areas such as entertainment, technology and health & wellness and how journalism re-imagined should look is a question worth pondering.


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