Today's report from the folks at Breaker is both rather scandalous and yet disappointingly unsurprising. A "sting" of sorts conducted by Breaker found that out of 22 crypto news outlets they contacted with an offer of "pay to publish," 12 said they would take the money and post the requested info. This is hardly new in technology-related media, as Breaker cited this John Biggs post over at TechCrunch, outlining the same kind of BS.
The proliferation of media outlets in the Web 2.0 era has made this kind of thing both easier to do and ironically less useful at the same time. A generation ago, if your PR team or agency could get the New York Times to run a story on your company, book or restaurant, the value was hard to measure. Everybody who was anybody read the Times (and, it's worth noting, many still do). But in this day and age, news is broken or reported on countless sites. There is no magic place to get coverage that ensures wide distribution of your news. And therefore, your "not really news" where you convince ICOTokenBlockchainReport (I think that's a fake name I just made up) to write about your scammy initial coin offering doesn't guarantee anyone will read it, nor does it demonstrate your authenticity to skeptics.
So perhaps, in that sense, it isn't surprising that a dozen crypto sites would take money from Breaker's phony "Nikolay Kostarev" who was asking for coverage of a fictitious ICO. Kostarev would pay for that coverage so long as the post was not labeled "sponsored" and appeared to be legitimate news.
At The Block, if and when we receive such a request we will, of course, ignore it — except perhaps to expose the requestor as one to avoid. We're still the "new kid" in crypto, and we weren't contacted by Breaker, but I can state with metaphysical certitude that we would never even spend a moment entertaining such a request.
It should be obvious why to anyone even tangentially familiar with journalistic standards. But today seems like as good an opportunity as any — it's around three months since our initial launch of The Block's newsletter to share with our readers a little insight into how we do things.
The Block's Manifesto
- We're journalists, researchers, and analysts. No matter which hat a member of our team wears, they will adhere to the highest professional standards at all times when their work appears on The Block. We will hold any freelancers equally accountable.
- We may ruffle feathers or call out an individual, project, or company for doing something questionable. But we will always give them a chance to respond, and we don't believe our word is gospel.
- We will seek truth relentlessly and let the world understand how we do our work. We're not in an ivory tower, and we're not a black box. We're people — trained professionals perhaps, but people — who aren't perfect but will never stop striving to do things the right way.
- When we make a mistake, we want you to let us know. That may lead to us posting a correction, a clarification, or even an entirely new story where we acknowledge the error.
- The above doesn't mean we will accept the word of every outsider that we made an error, but we will consider all such requests when they are respectful and directed to us through appropriate channels.
- If and when we open our site to sponsored content, you will never be confused as to whether the content has been sponsored. If someone ever makes us an offer that involves compromising editorial standards, we will reject any and all business relationships with that entity. What we do cannot be bought.
- If and when we accept ads on the site, they will look like ads. You won't have to work as a reader to figure out if something is a sponsored post or an ad. If you are ever confused, let us know and we will fix it.
- If we choose to report on A over B, it's because we (1) can't report on everything or (2) we got a good story about A or (3) don't think B is a good story. It's not personal. It's not a science. It's news judgment. It's the belief of our research team about which was interesting. It's a set of decisions, often made under the pressure of a deadline, about what best serves our readers.
- If everyone likes what we do, we're doing it wrong. We're not looking at the complex world of crypto and blockchain to be everyone's best friend. We're here to bring clarity, to shine light on the positive, to expose the nefarious, to help a generation of people be smarter about this frontier technology that we firmly believe will change the world.
While we don't share all the opinions of the estimable NYU Stern Professor Nouriel Roubini — a noted crypto skeptic — we leave you today with one of his thoughts from Twitter about crypto/blockchain media: "With the exception of two or three independent outlets like your @TheBlock__ the rest is totally conflicted and captured by the industry," Roubini wrote.
We both appreciate those kind words we have a pretty good idea of who the other "independent outlets" that Roubini refers to. We respect what they do, and we hope to be mentioned in the same breath as our strongest competitors for a long time. Someday, if we keep doing what we doing, we hope to be first among equals. In the meantime, we're going to get back to work.
© 2023 The Block. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.