Critical journalism in the crypto ice age

It’s the crypto ice age — I think we’re past calling it just a “winter” — and the crypto media frantically circles a dwindling pool of promotional cash.

CoinDesk lives on conferences and promoting Digital Currency Group properties with varying degrees of subtlety — and it’s always been full of uncritical boosterism.

Decrypt lives on Consensys patronage, and the boosterism has been through the roof of late. Breaker Mag died of SingularDTV stopping its patronage.

The Block are massive coiners, so the site’s very into promoting crypto as a whole — but the subscription model means the incentives are correct, and they do observably piss off the right people. And I won’t state numbers, but they’re apparently doing quite well.

Modern Consensus was foolish enough to lose Amy Castor, who’d made it actually a good publication worth reading for a month or so. I guess MC will just get back to shilling Bitcoin SV. [blog post]

All the other sites are worse — an infinite sea of crappy crypto shill blogs.

There’s individual excellent writers at all of these publications — a lot of these people are great, they’re friends I respect, and I follow them avidly — but journalism costs money.

And there’s no money for journalism in crypto — particularly for anything that even admits the possibility of rocking the boat as a whole.

(There’s not much that’s funnier than some bozo who’s been caught out perpetrating shonky nonsense, furiously demanding to know what you’re BUIDLing instead of being so negative. I’d say not perpetrating shonky nonsense counts as a net positive, actually. Crypto journalists looking for a story should do Twitter searches for “buidl”, then go up the thread to spot whatever scam is being called out.)

I’m hearing more reports of writers leaving their publications in disgust when they are, literally in some cases, told to stop criticising crypto — meaning, even on an obvious 2+2=4 factual level — and “be more positive” — i.e., run the press releases unedited, because the boss is chasing that dwindling pool of crypto shill bucks.

The only decently-funded sources of critical journalism about crypto are in the mainstream financial press — who do well from paywalls, because their customer base has money.

It’s the same across all of journalism. I suspect subscriptions directly from the readers themselves is the least-unviable model — the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times do well with a low and easily-hopped paywall, and the Guardian is doing well with no paywall at all.

There are local journalism startups that run on the reader patronage model too, and there are specialist sites getting into the model. You won’t get rich from it — but you’ll get to do actual speaking-truth-to-power journalism.

(No, and Civil’s journalism-on-the-blockchain ICO experiments were never going to work. Nobody who wasn’t high on blockchain fumes could see how this nonsense could possibly function. And, in a completely predictable turn of events, Civil ended by ripping off its most loyal journalists.)

My Patreon pays expenses and beer money — it’s not a living, but it really does help. And my Patrons are excellent co-conspirators. Amy’s restarted her Patreon, and you should throw some bucks her way too.

Also, if you need a nocoiner for your blockchain panel, pay me and I’m so there. I give great panel. (We’re supposed to go out on the road doing gigs these days, right?)

I’m getting into the habit of firing up LibreOffice and working on book content even when I really don’t feel like it. It turns out that persistence is the secret. I think I’ve convinced Amy to do the book on Quadriga too.


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2 Comments on “Critical journalism in the crypto ice age”

  1. Your Nocoiner performances are excellent and I have written a recommendation on Linkedin. Do you do birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, confirmations and other events as well?
    Panels, are so ubiquitous across so much of the business world it is only a matter of time before every wants a crypto or blockchain panel at their event.

    1. My personally-affecting issue with coronavirus is that it (temporarily, I hope) does for the nodding and smiling racket …

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