Crypto news site Breaker Mag is shutting down — Breaker announced it on Tuesday, but The Block broke the news Monday. Some last articles will be posted through May, outside contributors have been told they’ll receive outstanding payments, and then the site will be kept up as an archive.
The motivation behind Breaker Mag was to raise the standards of writing and reporting in the cryptosphere and promote a better understanding of decentralization and blockchain technology to the masses.
Consultants Logan Hill and Ben Williams (of Vulture, amongst many others) ran the project, and Ben Schiller (Fast Company) came in as editor. The site soft-launched in mid-2018, and fully launched in September 2018.
Breaker was eventually shut down because it had no business model, no viable future business plan, and was too expensive to be sustainable — its only income was patronage from its corporate parent.
I’m told that Ditto PR — who Breaker were doing the BreakerCon 2019 conference with — approached The Block about Breaker’s closure — and Frank Chaparro then wrote the story. The Block is now taking on BreakerCon, which will be renamed AtomicSwap.
I was approached to write for Breaker — my name is in the September 2018 press release — but, sadly, we couldn’t come to agreement on the contract. Here’s Breaker’s proposed contract: , , ,  — they didn’t send a Word document or a PDF, just images on a click-through site. (No, this is not in any way a normal way to do a contract.)
This is a sloppy document. I had to note repeatedly, “that may not be what you meant, but that’s what it says.” Particular issues were para 5 (no time limit or kill fee), para 9 (they wanted a biographical piece, so this would have been the right to turn my life story into a TV show for no extra payment), para 13 (all legal liability on the writer — which doesn’t really go with the good and sensible para 3, where they want all your notes and recordings so they can decide whether they can stand by your text), para 15 (not only is this contract confidential, its existence is confidential) and para 20(d) (a mandatory arbitration clause, which translates to “you lose”).
But, Breaker were quite sure their contract was perfect and immutable. I’ve confirmed with two other contributors that what I received was, in fact, the standard contract that Breaker offered — though one of them also balked at it, and in their case, Breaker did budge.
Breaker paid really well — they were offering me $1000 for 1000 words, I know some got paid at $2/word — but had occasional hiccups in coming through with the money. I’ve seen the messages from one contributor’s lawyer, patiently explaining the concept of contractual assumption of good faith — which means you can’t, for instance, promise things in other messaging channels, then say that one of the contracts means you don’t have to follow through. You do. They eventually did. I understand Breaker straightened up after this.
The most important Breaker article was when Corin Faife posed as a PR person, and asked other crypto news outlets if they’d take money to cover a project. Nearly half refused! So that’s nice. The majority wanted payment of between $240 and $4500 — in filthy fiat, not even in cryptos. This should surprise absolutely nobody.
The very best thing Breaker ever published was Laurie Penny on the crypto cruise — Four Days Trapped at Sea With Crypto’s Nouveau Riche. One of the most interesting and readable outside views yet seen of the Bitcoin world.
Breaker got a bit over-optimistic about crypto and blockchains, and could get a bit tawdry and gossipy at times. But it stayed fundamentally reality-based, and it’s a shame to see it go.
The Block has a business model ($1000/year subscriptions for investment-level readers), and ConsenSys is quite pleased to continue being the patron for Decrypt — which pleases me. And there’s independent reader-sponsored news blogs like mine and Amy Castor’s. But it’s a hard slog for blockchain journalism in the crypto winter.
Just waiting for their farewell article, titled “penis”.
— ElSaico, /r/buttcoin
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