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This article was published on April 27, 2018

There is no consensus in the cryptocurrency community when it comes to journalistic standards

The whole Ethereum-Coindesk fiasco has started a much-needed conversation on ethics in cryptocurrency Journalism

There is no consensus in the cryptocurrency community when it comes to journalistic standards
Neer Varshney
Story by

Neer Varshney

Former TNW writer


The Ethereum community is furious after Coindesk, a major cryptocurrency publication, published an article on the controversial Ethereum proposal, EIP999.

Coindesk reported that the proposal has caused infighting among the Ethereum community and it might lead to a blockchain split soon.

This did not go well with the Ethereum community, especially with Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who accused it of sensationalism.

A whole new debate on journalistic ethics was started after Buterin took to Twitter to criticize the publication.

Buterin further went on criticizing the publication in a series of tweets. He claimed that only one side of the story was included — and although one of Ethereum’s developed had replied to Coindesk’s request for answers, his response was excluded from the story.

He asked if speed was in fact that more important to the publication than reporting the story accurately.

Not everyone however agrees with Buterin, and this has started a whole debate in the community on the standards of Journalism, and what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Buterin, for example, might be very critical of the fee charged by the publication for its conference, calling it “rent-seeking”, but Bitcoin developer Peter Todd believes that such fees allow the publications to pay for their journalism in the first place, and is therefore justified.

Buterin also retweeted Tim Swanson, co-founder of PostOakLabs, who accused the publication of being complicit in not publicly disclosing if any writer has a vested interest in the coins they write about.

But even here, Buterin received a rebuttal from Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, to whom it does not make any sense for Journalists to be forbidden from investing in cryptocurrencies.

He further added that in future, he will in fact prefer to only accept media interview requests from Journalists who ‘HODL’ some cryptocurrency themselves.

Kyle Torpey, a cryptocurrency Journalist, and Todd were also critical of Buterin calling out the publication for being ‘recklessly complicit in enabling giveaway scams’, when they just saw it as an honest mistake any journalist could make.

The publications require funding to run, but where that funding comes from affects the journalism they do.

Given how divided the community is on the appropriate journalistic standards based on one article — there’s no wonder we can’t come on a consensus for what ethical journalism would ideally mean.


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