How Bitcoin can Win the Media War
What can the Bitcoin community do to improve the image of the cryptocurrency?
If you are reading this article, you most probably are a Bitcoin user and have drunk the Kool-Aid already. However, when you first started your journey into the rabbit hole that is crypto currencies you were probably skeptical. Typically it takes weeks or months to fully grasp the entire concept.
In my first job as a financial journalist I had about 45 minutes to identify, research, summarize, write and publish a ‘story’. There is no way that a writer at a local newspaper or a news editor from a TV broadcaster can intelligibly write a Bitcoin article in between twenty other pieces on the same day.
This is why the knee-jerk reaction from most media is to always jump on the juicy stories that are easy to write with clear bad-guy, good-guy characters: The big scandals, the most recent arrests or legal action, the major thefts and scams, and isn’t it true that Bitcoin’s main use is drugs and gambling anyway?
As Matt Miller from Bloomberg Television recently told me in New York in an interview “These are the fun stories. We aren’t telling the stories that aren’t scandalous. That’s not what we do. No one would tune in.” Remember this is coming from a media company with a highly finance-savvy audience.
Now imagine how a regular journalist (without a background in economics, finance, cryptography, and technology) would embark on his or her research. The first Google result is the Wikipedia article.
After struggling to understand the concept of the blockchain, distributed trust, peer-to-peer, mining, etc. It is not long before you scroll down to the chapter about Criminal Activity – what a treasure trove of juicy stories.
It’s impossible to change the behavioral patterns of most journalists, so what can the Bitcoin community do to improve the image of the cryptocurrency?
- Get people to use Bitcoin via faucets or projects like the MIT initiative.
- Rather than trying to explain Bitcoin to friends in theory, create a wallet for them and send them 0.01 BTC on the spot instead. Then tell them “this could have been a penny or a billion dollars”
- Find the use case that really appeals to the particular person or group you are explaining it to. For my mother its online shopping, for my client that has family in South America its remittances, for my Wall Street buddies its an investment, for my political freedom fighting peers its freedom ;)
- Make easy-to-understand explanation videos or share the ones that are already out there
- Have a sense of humor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reo7WbibxaQ
- For every drug trafficking and money laundering story, let’s spread one about organic farmers using Bitcoinwww.pozible.com/project/179397
- For every bank scandal, let’s publish news about how Bitcoin can help the poor
- For every additional trillion dollars in money supply, expose the problems with central banking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=argq_cxalZ8
- Try to channel as much of our daily purchases through the Bitcoin ecosystem (via giftcards if need be) so that it makes sense for merchants to accept Bitcoin.
- Start or attend a local meetup group
- Support Bitcoin start-ups and charities that accept crypto
- Ask merchants whether they accept Bitcoins. If this happens often enough, shop owners will notice
- Start YouTube channels, publish a blog, make a film, start a podcast, write a song, create a memewww.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/1ozh0m/awesomeness_from_a_rbitcoin_comment_to_the_moon/
- Keep a list of ELI5 Bitcoin articles ready and send them to friends who are curious
Creating this sort of social movement does prompt change, however small it may be. But let’s be realistic, it’s likely none of the above will entirely convince your parents and won’t bring your auntie into the ecosystem. So, what will?
I truly believe in the transformative effect of documentaries. They can spark a change in attitude and perspective, alter human behaviour, influence public opinion and even kickstart legislative change. Supersize Me has brought the health aspect of fast food to our attention just as An Inconvenient Truth has elevated the climate change discussion into the mainstream. Filmmakers have recently even directly influenced a policy revision within the U.S. military!
In order to achieve this type of impact a documentary’s production must meet some basic criteria. The documentary must have a level of credibility in both its interviewees and the team behind it. The choice of language is fundamental in capturing the attention of the audience.
No ‘geek speak’. Specifically for a Bitcoin documentary there must be an examination of the financial and technological context that Bitcoin has emerged from; the problems with fiat money, inflation and the legacy banking system. These issues must be fully explored to realise the vital role Bitcoin can play in our daily lives.
We hope that with our documentary we hit the right tones and balance between educational and entertaining in order to achieve global distribution. Please check out our trailer, the team, the interviewees and the rewards in our Kickstarter campaign and get in touch with any questions or comments.
Written by Torsten Hoffmann, Media Entrepreneur and Producer of Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It. Torsten has licensed documentaries to global customers including Netflix, CCTV in China (800 million TV households), Samsung, Virgin Media, LG Electronics, Sky Italia, Orange (France), Canal+ (Poland), Deutsche Telekom, NBC Universal and several DVD labels and smaller broadcasters in 20 countries. Part of the unedited interviews are published on YouTube.