A Letter from the Editor
Welcome to The Markup!
By: Julia Angwin
We are living in a golden age of information—as data of all types floods through our news feeds around the clock. But amid this tidal wave of information, it is increasingly difficult to sort truth from opinion, anecdote, spin or outright propaganda.
All of us have probably wondered: Is the viral post in our news feed today representative of a real trend? Is it an outlier? Is it hype?
The Markup is here to help you sort that out. We are a nonprofit newsroom with an unparalleled roster of quantitative journalists who are committed to finding the true meaning in large amounts of data. Our programmers use the latest computational methods—from large-scale data collection to artificial intelligence—to pierce the veil of secrecy around tech used by big businesses and the government.
The Markup uses these and other cutting edge methods to collect and analyze evidence showing how technology is being used and how it affects you, your family, and your community. Our goal is simple: We want to rebuild trust in journalism, one dataset at a time.
We pursue stories through what we’re calling The Markup Method, an approach rooted in the scientific method. It’s a three-step process:
Build. We ask questions and collect or build the datasets we need to test our hypotheses.
Bulletproof. We bulletproof our stories through a rigorous review process, inviting external experts and even the subjects of investigations to challenge our findings.
Show our work. We share our research methods by publishing our datasets and our code. And we explain our approach in detailed methodological write-ups.
We will be a publication that operates differently. We won’t do the types of stories that too often shape news narratives. You won’t see three-examples-and-it’s-a-trend stories on The Markup. And we don’t overstate our conclusions, because we understand all data has limitations. We hope this approach helps build your trust in our journalism—at a time when trust is a scarce resource.
Journalists at The Markup have already used this method to document housing discrimination on Facebook, forcing the company to change its ad platform. They have used this method to reveal how software used in criminal sentencing is biased against black defendants, causing a seismic shift in how computer scientists design their systems.
We’re thrilled to build an entire institution around journalism that diagnoses problems precisely enough that they can be solved. Our goal is to give you the tools you need to build the world you want.
Crafting this unique newsroom hasn’t been easy, and we are so excited to finally be able to show you the investigations we have been working on. Thank you for joining us on this journey!
This article was originally published on The Markup and was republished under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license.