Expert Insight

Crypto players need to stop their assault on press freedom

Bitcoin core developer, educator and entrepreneur, Jimmy Song, is the latest to shout 'fake news!' at his Twitter followers

Donald Trump must love the crypto space. The US President’s attacks on the media have been condemned by the likes of the United Nations, with the warning that his rhetoric could result in violence against journalists.

He would no doubt enjoy the sight of Jimmy Song tweeting yesterday: “Journalists are paid to get attention. The best way to reward them is to get others to pay attention to them. The best way to punish them is to ignore them. And yes, that includes the obvious clickbait, complete misunderstandings and deliberate lies.”

Cringe inducing tweets like this are unfortunately a regular occurrence in the blockchain world. In the last couple of months alone, I have seen crypto-libertarians refer to journalists as “corrupt”, “liars” and “pond scum”.

Room for improvement

Of course, crypto/blockchain news sites (0f which there are many, too many, it could be argued) are far from perfect. Much like the nascent sector it covers, there are many chancers out there whose only talent is for self-promotion. Late last year, we reported on Breaker going undercover to see if crypto news outlets would take money and pass sponsored articles off as legitimate journalistic content.

“On the assumption that most outlets would not openly admit that they took bribes for coverage if asked directly by a journalist, it seemed reasonable to set up an undercover investigation on the topic,” the online publication said.

It created a fake email account, and claimed to be representing a PR company. There was no fake website or domain associated; it was simply a Gmail address with a profile picture found by image searching “Russian actor.” (Nikolay Kostarev, a Moscow-based PR agent).

Breaker reached out to 28 sites. Out of the 22 outlets who replied conclusively, 12 of them were willing to publish paid content without disclosing it as such.

The article was a wake up call. At the same time, however, we must remind ourselves of the existence of independent, impartial titles doing good work. Coin Rivet prides itself in being amongst them. When Jimmy Song says that ‘journalists are paid to get attention’ and waffles on about ‘clickbait, complete misunderstandings and deliberate lies’, he at best oversimplifies things and at worst whips up anger against people who are just doing their jobs.

Spreading good news

Wall Street has stolen Bitcoin from the people out of fear and greed, blockchain evangelist Nick Ayton recently claimed.

In a no holds barred Medium post, he argued that the investment banks were behind the massive drop in the cryptocurrency market cap in a concerted effort to buy the dip. We will then witness the pumping of prices “because they can and they will”.

He commented: “We have witnessed a systematic approach supported by broadcasters who are close friends of the banks , CNN, CNBC, and the new crypto press Coindesk and Cointelegraph, that sold out for profit rather than defend the crypto economy on which they were founded, to spread good news and encourage adoption, decided to propagate the fear on behalf of Satan, as greed once again took over from libertarian motives.”

But the crypto press was not founded for this reason alone. Yes, publications should be promoting greater understanding of the space, but, against a backdrop of dodgy ICOs, shills, shitcoins etc, they should also be holding people to account and spreading ‘bad’ news in the process.

Much like the way Trump savages his critics whilst praising the ass kissing Fox News, we need to look at Jimmy Song’s tweet and ask ourselves: does he really believe what he’s saying, or is he reacting to negative media coverage of something he has said or done? I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

If you disagree with a journalist, by all means call them out. But don’t scream FAKE NEWS and disparage an entire industry. Because when you do, you become part of the establishment you’re apparently looking to dismantle.

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