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eBay Founder Starting Online News Site

As print journalism suffers from the move of ad dollars to the Web, Pierre Omidyar hopes his service will fill gaps in local Hawaiian news reporting.
With the news business under relentless pressure from the Web, journalism -- or at least a sector of it -- may have a new champion from one of the Web's most successful entrepreneurs. eBay founder Pierre Omidyar is starting up a local news service in Honolulu.

The effort is aimed at creating original in-depth reporting of Hawaii-based issues. The idea is so new that Omidyar, who lives in Hawaii, doesn't have a name for it yet. He is partnering with former eBay VP Randy Ching in the effort.

"We're starting something up in our own backyard," Omidyar writes in his Peer News blog. "We are creating a Honolulu-based local news service that will produce original, in-depth reporting and analysis of local issues in Hawaii... We have a lot of work to do before our public launch in early 2010."

At the same time, Omidyar said he and Ching were closing their Ginx Twitter-based startup.

As a billionaire, Omidyar has the resources to launch a community news service. Like virtually all states in the U.S., Hawaii's print news publications have been hard-hit as the Internet has drained away advertising dollars. Hawaii's major newspapers, like many others, have been racked by layoffs.

Omidyar, who with his wife has been a generous supporter of several community-oriented charities, has long had an interest in journalism. He noted that he and Ching started Peer News "with the goal of empowering citizens and encouraging greater civic participation through media. We believe that a strong democracy requires an engaged society supported by effective news reporting and analysis. And, we believe that this can be done in a profitable, sustainable way."