The Markup Loses Editor-in-Chief Julia Angwin, and Key Staff Follow

Laura Hazard Owen, Nieman Lab:

The Markup — the highly anticipated nonprofit news site that planned to explore the societal impacts of big tech and algorithms — has fired Julia Angwin, its much-respected cofounder and editor-in-chief. The Markup’s editorial team published a letter of “unequivocal support” for Angwin, who says that she was let go over email Monday night. The move baffled journalists on Tuesday, but Angwin said her ouster was the result of tension over the editorial mission of the site — specifically, whether it should take an “advocacy approach” or an “evidence- and data-driven approach.”

Angwin, a Pulitzer Prize winner and two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, left ProPublica about a year ago to launch the site. At ProPublica, she’d been an investigative reporter who’d built a team pairing programmers and journalists that specialized in investigating the opaque algorithms that influence our lives. ProPublica data scientist Jeff Larson went with her, and, as my colleague Christine Schmidt reported last year, Sue Gardner, formerly of the Wikimedia Foundation and the CBC, was their third cofounder and executive director.

Gardner and Larson dispute that there has been any shift in editorial direction, but a raft of great reporters resigned today — not usually a sign associated with stable executive direction and organizational mission. Competing publications with a solid investigative mission should be fighting to hire everyone who left the Markup today.

Also, they fired a co-founder over email? Dick move.