Ousted founder Julia Angwin returns to The Markup

The yet-to-launch tech journalism site The Markup has had a bumpy 2019 — co-founder and editor-in-chief Julia Angwin was fired, prompting the departure of the majority of the editorial staff. Soon after, The Markup’s other founders (whose disputes with Angwin apparently led to her ouster) left the company themselves.

Now things may be back on track, with Angwin returning to the EIC role, and the six staffers who’d quit in protest returning, as well.

In fact, a New York Times story about Angwin’s reinstatement suggests that there’s been a surprising amount of continuity behind the scenes, with The Markup continuing to pay Angwin and her staff while they continued to work on articles and meet in Angwin’s living room.

In addition to announcing Angwin’s return, The Markup says it has hired former BuzzFeed vice president and associate general counsel Nabiha Syed to serve as president, along with Evelyn Larrubia, who will become managing editor for investigations.

“Technology is shaping our world faster than most people can keep up, before we can digest the implications of any of it,” Angwin said in the announcement. “We believe our data-driven approach to tech accountability journalism will bring facts to this emotional debate. And I can’t think of two more accomplished leaders in their fields than Nabiha and Evelyn to join me in the venture.”

The plan is for Angwin and Syed to report to a not-yet-appointed independent board of directors, and for the site to start publishing by the end of 2019.

When The Markup made a splash with its kickoff last year, it wasn’t just for the involvement of Angwin (a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter from The Wall Street Journal and ProPublica), but also because its funding included a $20 million donation from Craigslist founder Craig Newmark.

The recent controversy prompted the site’s backers to declare that it had become “necessary to reassess our support,” but today’s announcement closes with this note: “The Markup remains supported by a coalition of major foundations, including Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust, the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative, and the Open Society Foundations.”