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The whole crypto/SBF stuff is shocking. Here is how we might fix the corrupt media system
A new breed of journalist is emerging on Twitter, YouTube and Substack. They put their audience first - and get rewarded by the market. Can they make reporting great again?
As a journalist myself, I’m absolutely shocked by how corrupt legacy and crypto media really is. I shouldn’t be, of course. I teach a course on the history of financial journalism at my old journalism school. Turns out, financial reporting has been at the cutting edge of every innovation in media - but also of every scam.
It makes sense once you think about it. The first newspapers emerged in Europe when traders would write down prices in one city to inform other traders in the next city. A very early form of newsletters. The first papers in the colonial US would only report on prices and quantities of goods coming in from the old world.
And the first cables connecting Europe and the US were laid by none other than Paul Reuter, a reporter turned entrepreneur, who started out with messenger pigeons and ended up founding one of the most important news agencies we have today: Reuters.
Millions for crypto-rags
Now to the scam part. Turns out that after every bubble comes a bust. And every bust reveals corruption in media. Usually this includes manipulation of stock prices. One of the most famous examples of this is the story of R. Foster Winans, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal. He went to prison for securities fraud in the 1980ies.
Today, this kind of blatant scamming has long moved to the world of crypto influencers who use their audience as “exit liquidity” for token projects - without even having to fear any consequences because crypto is a largely unregulated space. Something that the VCs know too well.
It’s one big, giant turd of a “market”, solely created to fleece the public.
But that’s not all. The insane coverage of Sam Bankman Fried as a “good boy philanthropist who wanted to save the world but somehow slipped and lost 10 billion Dollars” in some parts of the US mainstream media really leads to suspicions of shady business. Add to this the money SBF funneled into crypto-rags like “Bankless” and “The Block”. We’re talking millions here.
The fight has just begun
Bitcoin maximalists are well aware of all of this and have been relentlessly distancing themselves from this high time preference, scammy behaviour that just shows again: “crypto” really is peak fiat.
Now we have to wait and see how hard the regulators will come down on Bitcoin and “crypto”.
Sure, anyone with a brain and an uncorrupted soul would just rule Bitcoin a digital commodity and “crypto” a bunch of illegal securities (yes, this includes Ethereum, thank you for asking). But the same people paying off media have been lobbying politicians and if the treatment SBF is getting is anything to go by, we’re still in for a lot of pain.
This fight is not over. It has only begun.
But there is a silver lining here.
A new breed of reporters is emerging
You see, one of the main problems financial journalists have faced in the past is incentives. Either their own or those of their employers. In the end it all comes down to the age old line: Follow the money.
But the internet has changed the game. Today, we see “citizen journalists” like Twitter-users, newsletter-writers and YouTubers emerge that align their interests with those of their audience and the pubic. They tell the truth (or at least put in an hones effort to try to get to the truth) and get rewarded by the market.
This is new.
Examples for this include many writers here on Substack. And people like the YouTubers Coffeezilla and Upper Echelon who spend their days uncovering scammers. And of course entrepreneurs like Cory Klippsten from Swan Bitcoin, who hasn’t forgotten about his roots in journalism.
I could go on here but I think you get the point.
Note that these content creators don’t shun advertising, they have sponsors. But they know how to protect their integrity and what to stay away from.
As a journalist I have always been fascinated by these developments that started with the rise of the internet - and for the first time I can see how the emergence of the “creator economy” might actually be good for old fashioned reporters who put their audience and community first.
Let’s see where this leads us. It can’t possibly get any worst. But then again, that’s what I thought a week ago :)
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