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Crypto fools the mass media, but should blockchain advocates be interested?

8 min reading

The relationship between crypto and mass media (MSM) is complicated and it might be fair to say that some of the crypto communities are not very happy with the treatment they have received over the years.


The relationship between crypto and mass media (MSM) is complicated and it might be fair to say that some of the crypto communities are not very happy with the treatment they have received over the years. MSM largely ignores Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, apart from random hacks, ransomware attacks, and other illegal activities. “They've done pretty bad reporting over the last decade, and it's almost always been negative,” Samson Moe, Blockstream's chief strategic officer and CEO of Pixelmatic said. "It will be difficult for you to find positive news about Bitcoin."

But recently, there's been a lot of media coverage. For example, The Economist released its second crypto cover in the months to September 14, a member of the New York Times editorial team published an opinion comparing Bitcoin to “cosplay” – perhaps not meant as a compliment. The crypto/blockchain space could finally attract the attention of a burgeoning $2 trillion business sector, although some in the community say the mass media still don't "get it". Economists, for example, generally recognize the importance of decentralized financing (DeFi) - saying that it deserves "wise consideration" with "the potential to redirect the functioning of the financial system", elsewhere that "Bitcoin, the first major Blockchain, which started in year 2009… is now a nuisance.”

This raises a few questions: Assuming the mass media has really become crypto reporting, is that true? If you do not understand - z. inability to understand the real benefits and risks of crypto/blockchain - what's the problem? Should the crypto community in general be concerned about how MSM is used, as it could hinder widespread adoption, or should they see this as a balanced sign of growing public blockchain adoption? "Positive development"

“This is not the first time we have seen such a broad scope of cryptocurrencies at MSM,” Fabian Shar, professor of business administration at the University of Basel said. The media focus appears to be cyclical and can be linked to crypto market activity. “What is new is that newspapers and magazines seem to be talking less about pricing and are starting to explore the benefits of public and decentralized blockchains,” said Shar. "That is a very positive development." MSM appears to be tracking only the “entry” of large financial institutions into the crypto space, which began to pile up in the second and third quarters of 2021, said Sean Stein Smith, assistant professor of economics at Lehman College.

"The media is pursuing what financial institutions appear to have learned earlier this year. This pursuit is reflected in the more aggressive approach regulators have seen lately. Christine Smith, Executive Director of the Blockchain Association, agrees with Schär that MSM reporting tends to be “turned off” but appears to be more permanent. “The improvement in the regulatory environment, stimulated by the battle for crypto tax rules in the current infrastructure bill, has reached a new level,” he said, “We expect this level of coverage to be maintained while cryptos replace it. The US economy is strengthening in the world. "

The SALT conference, a traditional hedge fund event held in New York earlier this month, devoted much of its agenda to crypto-related issues, said Francine McKenna, assistant professor at the Kogod School of Business in the United States, editor of the accounting bulletin The Dig. “Now that you have a SALT conference with all the hedge findings working on this issue, this should be done,” he said. Bitcoin as a "nuisance"

Perceived weaknesses still exist – such as The Economist, who described bitcoin as a “distraction”, or the New York Times writer, who described Bitcoin users as “essentially a collection of libertarian cosplayers turned fictional babysitters on the state playground involved” explain. Regarding the latter, Mow replied, “If Bitcoin is cosplay, it is cosplay at a very high level.” McKenna added the prestigious UK weekly, unless it was a hurricane. "You seem to have misunderstood," said Stein Smith of The Economist. “Bitcoin may be slipping from its undisputed leadership position in the industry, but it is still an absolute beacon for space as a whole.” “Bitcoin has some interesting technological and socioeconomic properties that are very difficult to reproduce. Of course, most of the economic activity takes place on other blockchains, but that doesn't make Bitcoin obsolete. What can be annoying, however, is the fixation on purely monetary use cases and unnecessary fights between different community members. "

What are breakpoints?

Of course, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are not always easy to understand. Andrew Smith Lewis, Chief Innovation Officer at Cais, an alternative investment platform for financial advisors (FA), has created FA training, including a blockchain and crypto fundamentals course developed with Galaxy Digital. The concepts in this course proved more difficult for consultants to understand than those in other Kais finance courses, Lewis said. For example, it takes about three times longer to master the key elements in a blockchain course than it does in a corporate hedge fund course, he estimates.

Smith of the Blockchain Association agrees that some cryptographic concepts can be problematic: “DeFi is a good example, it is a relatively new space and the protocol can be difficult to understand, even for those relatively understandable by regulators and the technology front. "The most difficult aspect of Bitcoin is that it is truly unique – unlike anything that has ever happened before,” said Moe, adding, “The media cannot compare and cannot fully understand the extent of the paradigm shift that lies ahead. McKenna adds that its "virtual nature" poses challenges: “So much of it is in the unknown technology space that most liberal arts journalists will never understand. I would like to say that they cannot understand concepts like reputation and impairment in relation to traditional accounting. I hear it all the time, “Too technical.” Can you really expect them to design forks and bets if they don't understand recalculation?”

Until recently, people who were very familiar with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology had limited their public comments to specialized publications, McKenna continued. "Mainstream media don't even know who they are." One consequence is a deficit in crypto education among MSM and regulators. "I still don't think the SEC or any mass media know what airdrops, forks, betting, or even the mechanics of real lending problems are. But they should try." Would more education help? “More education is always better than less,” said Smith, adding, “People are busy, they have prejudices about what crypto is regardless of their age, and we need to meet them wherever they are.”. I rarely speak to anyone in mass media where reporters or editors become more critical of crypto after we speak. "

Moe, on the other hand, was sceptical. The main problem is that the Western media are financially privileged and view the world from this privileged perspective. Rather than dismiss Bitcoin as a Ponzi scheme, he thought it would be better to visit places like Ethiopia where start-ups pay their bitcoin employees because the funds cannot be destroyed or confiscated. "You [MSM] can't see why bitcoin is needed because they can't. see the problems in the world."

"There and forward"

So, should the crypto community continue to express their frustration every time a hot article about Bitcoin or DeFi appears in one of the wildly popular mainstream posts? Will there be a desired deception effect on Twitter to remedy the situation? Overall, they most likely agree with Schär that MSM's increased scrutiny is a positive – another sign that cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology will stick around. "Our job as a community now is to allocate resources and create an open and welcoming environment that allows journalists and tech-savvy people to understand what's going on," said Shar.  "We cannot ignore the power of the mass media to shape public opinion or the opinion of regulators and legislators," added Smith of the Blockchain Association. "We have no choice but to try to coexist and move forward, both in our media evangelization work and in our work with lawmakers and regulators."


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