How Bitcoin can Win the Media War

In March 2014 during the Newsweek-Nakamoto scoop (that wasn’t) and the following manhunt we experienced the ugly face of irresponsible journalism. The real problem, however, is lazy journalism.

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?

 

  1. Get people to use Bitcoin via faucets or projects like the MIT initiative.
  2. 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”
  3. 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 ;)
  4. Make easy-to-understand explanation videos or share the ones that are already out there
  5. Have a sense of humor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reo7WbibxaQ
  6. For every drug trafficking and money laundering story, let’s spread one about organic farmers using Bitcoinwww.pozible.com/project/179397
  7. For every bank scandal, let’s publish news about how Bitcoin can help