Posted in: Archive
July 15, 2014 1:46 PM UTC

Bitcoin Journalism and the Truth

The Truth about Bitcoin is... Well, it depends, you see. It depends on where you stand in relation to Bitcoin. If you're an orthodox central banker, the truth about Bitcoin is an erosion of power. To a politician, Bitcoin is a meme and a fad…

The Truth about Bitcoin is… Well, it depends, you see. It depends on where you stand in relation to Bitcoin.

If you’re an orthodox central banker, the truth about Bitcoin is an erosion of power.

To a politician, Bitcoin is a meme and a fad to be taken advantage of, and most importantly, it represents cheap and easy campaign donations – to hell, for now, with its revolutionary core.

To journalists (those in the know, anyway), Bitcoin is the hot topic of our time. The journalistic truth about it is that Bitcoin generates story after story, day after day: crazy stories of mindblowing innovation, economic transformation and goofy petty-criminals who apparently realize that it’s easier and safer to do crime in an unregulated para-legal domain.


Shoulder To the Wheel

The Bitcoin press has unselfconsciously been immersed in this reality for several years. Despite accusations of media collusion to manipulate the Bitcoin price (!), cries from altcoin fans that their “obviously superior” coin is not getting any coverage, and large exchange bosses lamenting the media criticism of their struggling operations staff; throughout all this, cryptocurrency news writers have been typing away, making their living in this exhilarating and multifaceted field.

Truthfully, had the goings on of the cryptocurrency world been scripted into a movie, the plot would be disjointed and unbelievable for the most part. Never pausing for reflection we just kept on writing.

I Am Your Accuser

Inevitably, in a cubist twist, one of the writers, one Tom Butterfield, turned their attention from the news (out there) and onto their colleagues and contemporaries. Introspection soured Tom’s notions of Truth and Honesty, and the result? Flagrant accusation.

“These sites write paid articles!”

“Those sites are dishonest!”

“CryptoCoinsNews is one of them! Readers stay away!”

Eh? Paid articles are somehow wrong? Which news publication doesn’t accept paid articles or advertorials? I thought… Wait a cotton-picking minute… this journalist is saying the site I write news for is dishonest and malleates the truth? The Truth? Who is this self-appointed policeman who’s encouraging users to stop reading our news!

CCN Director, David Parker, did an excellent job of replying to the accusations and clarifying CCN editorial policy viz-a-vis sponsored articles. Not that he ever needed to disclose this information, but the unprovoked attacked forced a response for the sake of protecting CCN’s reputation. Besides, the accusations are false, and so Tom Butterfield needed rectification. (I’ve always wondered if the word “rectify” is derived to the Latin word “rectum” – now I wonder no more).

A Day In the Life

In the interest of disclosure and sharing with readers our reality at CCN, I’d like briefly to describe how we work and relay the bare facts of writing news for CCN. Readers may be surprised to learn that there are no briefings, no lines of march and no instructions in how to write about certain topics. Instead, we have independent submissions from a motley crew of writers in different timezones, from every region of the globe. We’re all connected via a single mailing list which we use to announce whatever story we’re currently working on (to prevent duplication); notify any newsworthy stories out there, and on occasion praise well-written or well-performing articles.

Having worked with David and CCN for the past six months, I can assert that CCN writers are free to cover any stories they like, and there is a longstanding policy requiring writers to declare their interests. David and the Editorial Team have, in the past, refused stories based on conflicts of interest. Writers have been dismissed where they failed to declare such.

Spray of Bullets

TomOnBTC’s “no-cash-for-stories” crusade seems to be leveling accusations wildly and naively. Firstly, in the post-modern world everything is eventually reduced to cash – an unfortunate hook of capitalism that is imperative and pervasive – from government/corporate lobbyists in Washington to charity organizations (who bow to funding conditions), all the way to the high priests of Cryptocurrency – the Bitcoin core developers.

Secondly, with the cryptocurrency domain essentially being an anti-establishment,  disruptive innovation, and available to anyone, it has attracted all manner of pirates, criminals and self-serving tearaways. This is precisely the “dangerous class” that Marx referred to as the “lumpen proletariats“: gangsters, gamblers, antisocial misfits and those unable to function in the mainstream economy. I’m not generalizing this characterization to everyone involved in the cryptocurrency domain, but a superficial glance at the field shows that Bitcoin is more often than not making headlines – not for its inherent features of threatening the banksters’ and money transmitters’ status quo and of establishing the era of self-banking – but for the actions of the individuals involved in actually doing Bitcoin business: Brock Pierce, Karpeles, the Dread Pirate Roberts, Shrem, and countless purveyors of Bitcoin fraud via gambling sites, opaque exchanges, opportunistic ASIC retail, pump-and-dump altcoins, and so forth. Their alleged misconduct remains in juridical deliberation; it is not their innocence or guilt I am referring to, but their association with one another and the lumpen way.

So, why single out cryptocurrency news sites with accusations of not embodying the ideals of Truth and Honesty?

Ned Stark’s Truth and Honor

In this competitive world in its advanced stages of economic cancer, things cost money and perhaps a silver-spooned 1% of the planet’s population can afford to write – not for cash, but as a hobby – for the sheer joy of self-indulgent journalism and pursuit of the ideal of Truth!

CCN provides working writers (who are also cryptocurrency enthusiasts) with a channel for expression and income. My experience working for CCN has been positive in the sense that director David Parker’s no-nonsense captaining of the ship and editorial policy suits my sense of integrity and reporting. The majority of writers on the team share the same interests and world view. Such can be expected among individuals focussing on a new technology in a connected globe.

We get paid per unique hit on our articles, so the incentive to write interesting and relevant stories is self-evident. Sponsored stories (which on average pay less than original, well-conceived articles) are put up for grabs to the team. Sometimes a sponsored story presents an interesting subject to write about and sometimes it’s just the daily grind that puts bread on the table. In a very real and practical sense, writers put news out there in exchange for cash and it wouldn’t make sense to blow one’s reputation by publishing untruth.

For most of us, I believe, this is the best working arrangement we’ve ever had and, consequently, each enjoys free expression and productive output. There is so much activity in the field that the choice of stories expands every day. What could be the benefit or motivation of spreading untruth? Surely it happens now and again, but is this the great outrage Tom Butterfield implies? TomOnBTC would be better off examining the greater consequence of untruths spread by bankers, politicians and lawyers, I say! False accusation is a dangerous variety of untruth.

No Work, No Pay

I don’t know this individual, Tom Butterfield, and I’m not familiar with his/her writing. What I do know is that Tom is discouraging readers from visiting CCN, the site where my colleagues and I work, with the rationale that the truthfulness of all of our news is questionable. Disregarding the subjective nature of Truth; the naive belief that it isn’t malleable; and, given the practical mechanisms of editorial policy – and of not shooting oneself in the foot by telling lies – I assure you that Tom is spreading misinformation. Why? Friendly fire for what?

To what purpose?

Of greatest concern is that this individual’s actions directly impact the livelihood of scores of writers. Appoint yourself judge, pass judgement and make sweeping statements – but when you threaten people’s source of income you recklessly cross a professional line.

By appealing to their intelligence, a writer honours the reading public. As readers, we are capable of making up our own minds about the truthfulness and quality of what we read. TomOnBTC seems to think that sheeple need guidance – or perhaps he (or she) just made a careless mistake in a fit of over-exuberant and good intentioned journalistic textbook application?

“There’s no one thing that’s true. It’s all true.”
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Decentralized – Everything That Can Be Will Be

On this journey of decentralization, the cryptocurrency news press can best be compared to the “rational” Bitcoin miner who can do what he likes – choose which transactions (stories) to refuse and which to include in a block – to accept transactions (stories) based on their fee – or to refuse to relay them if they include no fee. As long as the miner’s transaction selection policies match what is happening on the network, i.e. the majority of users’ actual transactions, the mining node will satisfy network consensus. The mining operation will remain profitable only so long as the miner’s decisions are rational with respects to what the network requires. Imposing news (or mining) policies and practices via centralized decree is both uncalled for and out of character with the spirit of this thing.

“Hip” for Hipocratic

If they feel compelled to, writers interested in writing on the topics of Morals, Truth and Cash could look into the centralized control being practiced by Bitcoin Foundation sponsored’s Press Center. Notice who they select to speak “on behalf of Bitcoin” and which voices they seek to silence. What they want the mainstream media to hear about Bitcoin and what not. Surprisingly, their reactionary thoughts and opinions are recorded for all to see in public discussions here and here.

Now there’s investigative journalism for you, Tom. If you’d done your homework, you’d have known the facts about CCN editorial and publication policy. Our readers don’t pussy-foot about and keep us disciplined. Respectfully refrain, in future, from pissing in our drinking water.

Last modified: January 25, 2020 10:02 PM UTC

Venzen Khaosan @venzen

Market analyst and Open source developer with a keen interest in blockchain technology, consensus mechanisms and the decentralizing effect. He has found a solution to the PKI mechanism. Email me to discuss.

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