A yet-to-launch tech news site backed by Craigslist's founder is facing a staff exodus after its renowned editor-in-chief was fired over email

The Markup

Howard Childs

The Markup's former editor-in-chief Julia Angwin, left, its executive director Sue Gardner, and its new editor-in-chief Jeff Larson.

  • The Markup, a new upcoming publication focused on investigating tech companies, lost the majority of its editorial team on Tuesday following the reported firing of editor-in-chief Julia Angwin.
  • Five out of seven editorial staffers quit on Tuesday in support of Angwin, who was reportedly fired on Monday over what she characterized as an editorial conflict with cofounder and executive director Sue Gardner.
  • The Markup, which raised $22 million in donations led by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, was supposed to officially launch in July.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The Markup, a new and upcoming investigative journalism publication backed by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, was in turmoil Tuesday after the majority of its editorial team quit en masse to protest the reported firing of its cofounder and editor-in-chief Julia Angwin.

The Markup, which was due to launch in July, was a year in the making when Angwin was fired over email on Monday evening over what she said was an editorial conflict, The New York Times first reported.Advertisement

The non-profit publication's stated mission was "illuminating how powerful institutions are using technology in ways that impact people and society," according to its website. It had raised more than $22 million as of September, the majority of which came from Newmark, who donated $20 million

By Tuesday morning, five of the publication's seven journalists publicly resigned in protest of Angwin's departure, leaving it an open question what would become of the team's unpublished work. 

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The departures came hours after a Twitter account called the"The Real Team Markup" shared a letter support for Angwin.

"We joined on to the Markup because we believe in Julia Angwin's work," reads the letter, which was signed by the publication's editorial team, many of whom have since quit.

A plea to Craig Newmark

In a letter shared on Twitter, Angwin, a renowned investigative journalist, asked that Newmark "review and intervene" in what she described as a conflict in editorial objectives between herself and The Markup's executive director Sue Gardner.Advertisement

"Gardner is now seeking to change the mission of the newsroom to one based on advocacy against the tech companies," Angwin said in the letter, which was dated April 22. "She argues that The Markup needs to be a 'cause' rather than a 'publication.'"

Gardner disputed this characterization in a statement to Business Insider.

"We said when The Markup was first announced that we intended to 'hold the powerful to account, raise the cost of bad behavior, and spur reforms," Gardner said. "That mission has not changed. Our goals, purpose, and focus have not shifted. Our reporting priorities haven't changed, and won't. Any assertion that we have shifted our mission is simply not the case."Advertisement

Gardner went on to say that Angwin's departure "was, simply, a personnel matter."

"While we have worked for months together to try to find another role for Julia that is commensurate with her experience and stature as a journalist, unfortunately, Ms. Angwin refused to consider any title or role other than Editor-in-Chief. We appreciate her role in co-founding and helping to guide the initial phase of The Markup's development," Gardner said.

The company also announced that its cofounder and managing editor Jeff Larson would lead the publication as editor-in-chief.Advertisement