The Intercept, like the Guardian, faces a problem. In time, the Snowden saga will end. The problem for both is that the Snowden documents will either be released or they will, in time, become irrelevant except for historical research. When that occurs, how will they keep interest in a new media organisation that was created from that saga? Although the Intercept is part of a larger media organisation First Look, the other parts remain unseen. One possibility is that the secondary stories around the Snowden saga, such as persecution of the press or the debate over privacy, maintain an interest. However, that presents its own problems because its main offer is to the converted rather than to the uncertain reader. A focus on adversarial journalism means that the focus is less a desire to explain or to inform and more on a desire to convince. To convince the converted requires less evidence than convincing the uncertain.
If this is the approach, the organisation has to find new material that will attract and retain readers who are not already the converted. To attract readers, the Intercept and other organisations that focus on opposition or adversarial journalism need to find issues that allow them to express that opposition and adversarial position. However, it cannot be simply opposition for opposition’s sake. There will always be scandals, or leaks, because these are part of politics within the government, but that renders The Intercept to political gossip. As individuals and organisations vie for power with each other, they will leak or brief against their opponents, which, though abundant, does not render it interesting to the general public.
The underlying problem is that the debate created by the Snowden Saga is not overdue nor is it surprising. The debate is only an updated version of what has been continuously discussed and debate since states were created. The debate, at its heart, is about the tension between the individual and the state. How much can the state control and how much freedom does the individual have within the state are constant questions. They are important, but the media cannot solve them. They may have a view on the answer, but is that enough to sustain interest. For the public, the question is already answered by the status quo so will The Intercept provide a new answer.
The secondary issues, while interesting, soon fall back into the regular political and social discourse. Is there still a viable market for new writing on sports entertainment and politics and business? On these areas first look media, if it follows the Intercept will require an ability to offer a unique selling point offered by control and access to the NSA document. Such an advantage will not exist in the other areas, which raises the question. How do media organisations differentiate themselves in a social media age? If they focus on a niche, they accept that they depend on its source such as documents, or specific access.