An investigative nonprofit news organization called The Markup has raised more than $20 million in funding, through the backing of some high profile donors. On top of this list is Craig Newmark, the founder of ad listing website Craigslist.
The Markup is the brainchild of Jeff Larson and Julia Angwin. Both Larson and Angwin made a name for themselves while working for the famous nonprofit news organization ProPublica.
Joining them as executive director is the former head of Wikimedia Foundation, Sue Garden.
During their time at ProPublica, Larson and Angwin had covered several headline grabbing news stories.
Some of these include how Facebook showed users ads based on their ethnicity, racial bias in criminal activity prediction algorithm used by US courts, cybersecurity flaws in President Trump’s Mar-A-Lago resort, and racial bias against minorities when they apply for car insurance.
Given how much of the news the team covered tech-related investigations, the Markup seems to be in safe and capable hands.
The Markup is looking to hire 24 journalists for its New York office and is looking forward to an early launch in 2019.
Angwin said, in a statement, “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.”
She further added, “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 team has acquired strong financial backing from the likes of the founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, Craig Newmark, $2 million from John S. and James L. Knight Foundation (a non-profit that supports investigative journalism).
NewMark has delved into many philanthropic projects in the past. He donated half a million dollars to curb vandalism and harassment at Wikipedia.
The Craigslist founder has also pledged $1 million to the current team at ProPublica.
Newmark commented that he felt proud to support the Markup because of his awareness of ProPublica’s work. He further added that since he himself is a news consumer, he believes in authentic and accurate journalism.
The Craigslist founder has full trust in The Markup’s journalistic capabilities, since it is based on data-driven, intensively fact-checked reporting.
The Markup will also be filling a gap by reporting on the effects of technology on society as a whole, a topic which is barely covered.
The news site has received further financial help from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (a non-profit that financially helps other NPOs) and the Ford Foundation (an NPO that believes in fair and equal opportunities for all).
The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Initiative was the one who had first incubated the project.
Currently, there is not much debate happening about technology’s effect on society, and how it can shape policies and rules.
The reason behind this is that technology’s impact on this realm is still pretty controversial.
The Markup will resolve this issue, by covering topics that a non-technical person is able to comprehend and form their own opinions regarding the matter.