The Washington Post‘s Taylor Lorenz weighed in on the crypto scene this week with a thought-provoking article headlined “Influencers outshine traditional media on coverage of FTX.” The piece argues that gossipy and freewheeling “tea accounts”—a fixture of pop culture journalism for years—are at last trickling into the world of business journalism and shaping crypto coverage.
Lorenz, who made her name breaking stories about teen trends and has a penchant for inserting herself into the controversy du jour, isn’t versed in crypto but does make astute observations. She notes that Twitter accounts like Autism Capital have been influential in reporting on the FTX fraud, and that bloggers like Molly White and Coffezilla were early in pointing out crypto’s false promises. (Fortune has profiled similar figures like FatManTerra.) Likewise, she points out—correctly—that prominent social media accounts covering the crypto scene, including Autism Capital, have repeatedly reported false information and then simply deleted it.
Based on all this, and on her observation that the crypto world distrusts authority of all stripes, Lorenz concludes that these newer forms of journalism have eclipsed the stodgy “mainstream media” in covering FTX and more. It’s a bold claim, but is it accurate? Not really.
For starters, Lorenz’s piece contains some big whiffs such as holding up crypto influencer BitBoy as one of the figures outshining traditional media but failing to point out he is a notorious pump-and-dump huckster. Meanwhile, her suggestion that accounts like Autism Capital and bloggers are a new phenomenon is off base. Twitter personalities like Bitfinex’ed have been around for years and have long played an important role in crypto journalism, while pseudonymous sites like ZeroHedge have been a part of business media for a decade.
At the same time, Lorenz conveniently overlooks how mainstream outlets were instrumental in taking down FTX. This includes Coindesk, which isn’t a “traditional” media site but operates like one, and is run by a veteran of the Wall Street Journal and—critically—was the publication that exposed Alameda’s toxic balance sheet that caused FTX to crumble. Meanwhile, the Journal and Bloomberg News, including star columnist Matt Levine, are as mainstream as they come and have been key in exposing the many chicaneries of Sam Bankman-Fried.
The point is that contra Lorenz, influencers have not “outshined” more conventional outlets, and, more broadly, it’s not a zero-sum game. Sure, new breeds of journalists on new platforms are disrupting legacy publications, but it’s always been this way. Meanwhile, famous media names still provide critical coverage that informs not only most of the public but also the influencers themselves. The more media the better.
Jeff John Roberts
Crypto trading giant Genesis, which is reeling from losses tied to 3AC and FTX, laid off 30% of its staff and is closer to filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (WSJ)
The liquidators of 3AC used Twitter to serve a subpoena to the fund’s disgraced founder, who is suspected to be hiding out in the United Arab Emirates, where he’s been trying to rehabilitate his image on social media. (Decrypt)
New York’s attorney general filed a civil lawsuit against the CEO of bankrupt crypto lender Celsius, claiming he defrauded investors. (Reuters)
The U.S. government is closing in on FTX lieutenant Nishad Singh, who wrote code exempting the company’s trades from liquidation and who took out a $543 million personal loan from the company. (Bloomberg)
Bitcoin and Ethereum remain in a period of extremely low volatility. (Coindesk)
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