Celebrated former ProPublica investigative journalists Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson are launching their newest venture, the investigative nonprofit news organization called The Markup, with help from some big donors including Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark.
The Markup co-founders Angwin, Larson and executive director Sue Gardner (the former head of the Wikimedia Foundation), are backed by a $20 million donation from Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies; $2 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; and additional support from the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, according to a statement.
The project was incubated with an investment from the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative and news of the new media venture was first reported in The New York Times.
“In a healthy society, there’s an ongoing conversation about what’s in the public interest—a debate that includes legislators, regulators, the institutions of civil society, the private sector, and the general public,” said Gardner, in a statement. “We aren’t having that debate right now about new technologies because the level of understanding of their effects is too low. That’s the problem that The Markup aims to fix, and I am delighted to have Craig Newmark, and some of the United States’ most prominent private foundations, join us to do this.”
Newmark has been engaged in many philanthropic projects. He’s put $500,000 of his money toward reducing harassment on Wikipedia and has pledged $1 million to Angwin and Larson’s old bosses at ProPublica.
“I’m proud to back The Markup and support people whose work I’ve followed and admired for a long time,” Newmark said. “As a news consumer, I look for journalism that I can trust, and by producing data-driven, rigorously fact-checked reporting on the effects of technology on society, The Markup is helping to fill a largely unmet need.”
Gardner previously ran the CBC.CA, the website of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation; Angwin is a Pulitzer Prize winner who p worked at The Wall Street Journal and ProPublica; and Larson, a data journalist, has won the prestigious Peabody Award and the Livingston Award for Young Journalists. He used to work at The Nation.
At ProPublica the duo’s scoops included the revelation of discriminatory advertising practices at Facebook; algorithmic bias in criminal risk scores used in bail, sentencing and parole decisions; price discrimination toward minorities in car insurance rates; and cybersecurity holes in the President’s home-away-from-home, the Mar-A-Lago country club.
“I’m excited to build a team with deep expertise that can really scale up and advance the work Jeff and I began at ProPublica,” Angwin said, in a statement. “We see The Markup as a new kind of news organization, staffed with journalists who know how to investigate the uses of new technologies and make their effects understandable to non-experts.”
The Markup is looking to staff up with 24 journalists for its New York office and is hoping to launch in the early part of 2019.