Gardner in 2019
|Alma mater||Ryerson University|
|Known for||Former executive director, Wikimedia Foundation (2007–2014)|
Sue Gardner (born May 11, 1967) is a Canadian journalist, not-for-profit executive and business executive. She was the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation from December 2007 until May 2014, and before that was the director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's website and online news outlets.
In 2012, she was ranked as the 70th-most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine. In 2013, she joined the board of Global Voices. In May 2015, the Tor Project announced that Gardner would be assisting the project with the development of their long-term organizational strategy. In 2018, she was announced as executive director of The Markup. Gardner left this position in May 2019.
Gardner was born in Barbados. She grew up in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada, the daughter of an Anglican priest and a school principal. She received a degree in journalism from Ryerson University.
Gardner began her career on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio in 1990 on the program As It Happens, and worked for more than a decade as a producer, reporter and documentary-maker for CBC Radio current-affairs and for Newsworld International, focusing on pop culture and social issues.
In May 2007, Gardner resigned from CBC, and shortly thereafter began consulting for the Wikimedia Foundation as a special advisor on operations and governance. In December 2007, she was hired as the foundation's executive director. Over the next two years, she oversaw growth of the staff including the addition of a fundraising team, and a move of the headquarters from St. Petersburg, Florida, to San Francisco, California. In October 2009, Gardner was named by The Huffington Post as one of ten "media game changers of the year" for the impact on new media of her work for Wikimedia.
One of the issues that Gardner addressed while she was a Wikimedia Foundation executive director was gender bias on Wikipedia. She listed nine reasons why women don't edit Wikipedia, culled from comments by female Wikipedia editors:
On March 27, 2013, Gardner announced she would be leaving her position at the Wikimedia Foundation. She stated that the Wikimedia Foundation is doing well now but that the Internet is not, and that she planned to help in that area going forward. Gardner identified the "turning point" for her decision to move on as her involvement in the 2012 Wikipedia blackout protesting the Stop Online Piracy Act and the Protect Intellectual Property Act, protests that "started me thinking about the shape the Internet was taking and what role I could play in that."
Gardner joined The Tor Project, Inc to develop a strategic plan, with support from First Look Media. The Tor Project is a Massachusetts-based research-education nonprofit organization founded by computer scientists Roger Dingledine, Nick Mathewson and five others. The Tor Project is primarily responsible for maintaining software for the Tor anonymity network. First Look Media is an American news organization founded by Pierre Omidyar that was launched in October 2013 as a venue for "original, independent journalism." The organization is incorporated as a tax-exempt charitable entity.
In September 2018, Gardner co-founded The Markup with Julia Angwin and Jeff Larson as a continuation of their work at ProPublica. With $20 million of initial funding from Craig Newmark, the site would work to cover news about "Big Tech" and its impact on the public. Initially, Gardner was set to serve as executive director, Angwin as editor-in-chief, and Larson as managing editor, with a launch date of early 2019.
In April 2019, Gardner fired Angwin over creative and managerial differences. Larson was named editor-in-chief. Five of seven journalists on the staff resigned. In a letter to Newmark, Angwin said Gardner wanted to turn The Markup into a “cause” rather than a “publication.” Angwin also said Gardner ranked reporters in job interviews according to how negative they viewed tech companies and suggested using headlines like "Facebook is a dumpster fire." Gardner responded that The Markup's mission had not changed. Gardner and Larson left The Markup the following month, and Angwin was reinstated as the website's editor-in-chief in August 2019.
Journalists in every field need to have more skills to investigate those types of decision-making that are embedded in technology.
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