Julia Angwin Is Out as Editor of New Tech Watchdog Site The Markup

For the past year, the investigative journalist Julia Angwin has been busy building The Markup, a nonprofit news site dedicated to scrutinizing technology and its effects on society.

The Markup raised more than $23 million in funding, a testament to the reputation that Ms. Angwin, the site’s editor in chief, and another of its founders, Jeff Larson, had established through their work at ProPublica, which they left last year. But on Monday evening, Ms. Angwin was fired from The Markup via email, just months before the site’s planned July start date.

Ms. Angwin said in a letter to Craig Newmark, the Craigslist founder and the site’s biggest donor, that she was being pushed out by Sue Gardner, The Markup’s third co-founder who is also its executive director and the previous head of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Ms. Gardner wanted to change the site’s goal to advocating against tech companies instead of “producing meaningful data-centered journalism about the impact of technology on society,” Ms. Angwin wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times.

Ms. Gardner disputed that characterization.

“There is no change in the mission or purpose of The Markup,” she said in response to questions from The Times. “We are, pure and simple, a news outlet, we always have been and always will be. Our goals and purpose haven’t changed.”

She added, “We are not going to talk about the circumstances of Julia Angwin leaving The Markup, because as a matter of standard practice we don’t talk about personnel or HR issues.”

Mr. Larson, who will succeed Ms. Angwin as editor in chief, said in an email that “The Markup attempted to meet with Ms. Angwin in person, and discussions about her role had been ongoing for some time. This was not abrupt.”

Ms. Angwin’s departure is a surprise for people inside and outside the roughly 15-person organization. Her credentials and vision for the site helped attract interest from journalists, other media outlets and donors, including a $20 million gift from Mr. Newmark.

While Ms. Angwin was at ProPublica, the site became known as “big tech’s scariest watchdog.” Before joining ProPublica, she worked at The Wall Street Journal, where she led a privacy investigative team and was part of a group that won a Pulitzer Prize. She has also written two books, one of which was about privacy.

“I’m devastated to be forced out of the organization I conceived to pursue rigorous, evidence-based tech accountability journalism,” Ms. Angwin said in an emailed statement. “I will continue to pursue that mission and hope to find other ways to help build this field.”

The seven members of the Markup’s editorial staff sent management and Mr. Newmark a letter supporting Ms. Angwin on Monday, saying, “We joined on to The Markup because we believe in Julia Angwin’s work.” The letter was posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

Mr. Newmark did not respond to a request for comment.

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