Data tools

Markup doubles on data tools as revenue grows

According to its president, Nabiha Syed, The Markup, a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on data-driven tech surveys, generated $6.8 million in revenue in 2021 — mostly from philanthropy — compared to $4. .2 million in 2020.

Why is this important: The outlet aims to distinguish itself from the barrage of modern technology coverage by focusing on consumers, especially those suffering from technology-induced inequalities, rather than the business class of investors.

The big picture: The challenge for The Markup is to get ordinary people to pay attention to complex, data-rich stories. Its not-for-profit model helps it avoid commercial pressure to primarily serve an elite corporate audience.

  • The outlet, which conducts in-depth surveys on tech-related topics such as privacy, technology and labor, ad tech, algorithms and machine learning, measures its success in terms of impact – often regulatory impact.
  • Some of his larger pieces, such as a data survey into hidden biases in mortgage approval algorithms, have been cited by regulators seek to strengthen public protection laws.

Details: The association, which now has 30 employees, launched with 19 people at the start of 2020, just before the pandemic. Just under 50% of its staff are women and nearly half are people of color, according to internal data provided to Axios.

  • “It was a perfect time for us to prove why the market for our journalism exists,” Syed said. “Tech isn’t a niche. It’s the whole fabric of how we’re connected, so that warrants investigation into who it doesn’t serve.”
  • Although still small, the outlet has focused on growing its web traffic and social footprint over the past year. Its weekly newsletter, led by editor-in-chief and founder Julia Angwin, and its reporting update newsletter now have a combined 14,000 subscribers, per Syed.

Between the lines: Much of The Markup’s revenue increase last year has been attributed to a $2.5 million grant of the Ford Foundation.

  • While Syed recognizes the economic opportunity offered by subscriptions, she said the outlet will always keep its products and content free to ensure they are widely accessible.
  • Going forward, The Markup said it hopes to continue generating revenue through small dollar donations. Currently, it has “hundreds” of small donors, but relies primarily on philanthropy from large foundations.

What to watch: Over the past year, the company has created three publicly available data tools, including an app called CitizenBrowser which shows what content on social media is algorithmically elevated, a website privacy tracker called Black light And one Amazon Brand Detector Extension which shows which Amazon products actually belong to Amazon, not third parties.

  • Markup’s goal for 2022 is to continue building data privacy tools that it can deploy to the public.
  • He hopes that with access to these tools, readers can help him investigate Big Tech inequities long after their initial investigative articles have been published.