Happy Holidays From the ACJR!

Here's the scoop as of December 2020

Hello again from the Association of Crypto Journalists and Researchers! 👋

It looks like the bull market has returned! Luckily, since our last edition, there’s also been some excellent journalism to complement the emphatic “number go up” chants. Per usual, we’re highlighting the best reporting in the space, along with opportunities for reporters hoping to produce such high-quality work. So let’s get to it!

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In terms of research, Messari published a 134-page report, the “Crypto Theses for 2021.” It’s meaty enough to justify the paywall. For another well-researched ecosystem report, check out the Electric Capital Developer Report 2020, spearheaded by Maria Shen. 

As for bite-sized journalism, perfect for just a few minutes of reading, here are some examples of such outstanding reporting in this sector:

“Nigeria Is Emerging as a True Bitcoin Nation” by Adriana Hamacher, Decrypt

  • Although we’re generally skeptical of any headline about a “Bitcoin Nation,” this piece succinctly describes why Nigeria’s crypto market is booming. Speaking of Nigeria, podcaster Anita Posch did an excellent episode with the Nigerian Feminist Coalition’s founders about how they use bitcoin for activism. 

“Nigeria is now the world’s second-biggest bitcoin market after the US” by Uwagbale Edward-Ekpu, Quartz Africa

  • Yes, this is our second shoutout to a piece on Nigeria. The nation’s use of bitcoin is eloquently detailed here, with more details into the crypto’s liquidity in a country where the native currency is failing.

“China’s Fugitive Writers Find a Home Online” by Zeyi Yang, Rest of World

  • This feature story shows how dissident writers use cryptocurrency. Tokens are only a small part of this tale, but stories of censorship resistance are our jam. 

“Tokenized: Inside Black Workers' Struggles at Coinbase” by Nathaniel Popper, New York Times

  • Mainstream media’s most feared FUD-ster (“fear, uncertainty and doubt” about bitcoin, according to zealotus trolls) delivered a well-researched piece about Silicon Valley’s most lucrative exchange. It shows the industry still has a long way to go in order to develop a healthy corporate culture. 

“The American heartland needs jobs. Could Bitcoin mining become its next savior?” by Jeff John Roberts, Fortune

  • We love the way this article contextualizes the bitcoin mining industry and makes it easy to understand, even for “no coiner” readers. It’s a classic example of business reporting, debunking myths about bitcoin mining and environmental damage, without evangelizing. 

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Plus, for funsies, here is an example of a story we wish did just one thing differently:

Missed the Bitcoin Rally? Here’s a Low-Risk Strategy to Ride the Bull Market by Omkar Godbole, CoinDesk 

  • Although we are huge fans of Omkar’s work, because he is arguably the most prolific and diligent markets reporter in the space, this headline feels too much like financial advice for our tastes. We love the detailed strategy analysis from quoted experts in the piece. Next time, whichever editor ran this headline might sacrifice some clicks for an informative, not instructional, tone. 

Who do you think is making the best bitcoin coverage this year? We welcome prospective members to contribute suggestions via social media and check out our website.

Also, keep an eye out for our ACJR meetups! Our first meetup with Decrypt EiC Josh Quittner and Coindesk editor Zack Seward (and ACJR founders) on tech journalism in Web 1.0 to Web 3.0 — which you can watch here — was a roaring success, if we do say so ourselves.

Our top quotation from Quittner on the analogy of crypto and the early internet: "It's not 1994 all over again. It's more like... 1986." Do you agree with him? Disagree? Join our Telegram group to let us know!

The second ACJR meetup with freelance journalist Leigh Cuen and The Defiant’s Camila Russo, explored how reporters use cryptocurrency, plus social platforms like Twitter and GitHub. You can watch it here and suggest future meetup topics here.  

We also are grateful to acknowledge our first volunteers! Luis David Esparragoza contributed a Spanish announcement to this newsletter and Charles Bovaird kickstarted an ethical guidelines document the ACJR members may vote on in 2021 — for now, comment if you have any thoughts. (More info on how to become a member is coming early next year!) 

In the meantime, let us know if you’re interested in volunteering too. Or, if you’ve come across a searing hot take or an engrossing long read, drop the link in our Telegram with the 📩 emoji. 

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Next, we’ll turn to a guest column from Olta Andoni, a professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law and attorney at Zlatkin Wong, LLP:

Freedom of the press, protected by the First Amendment, is the cornerstone of a democracy, especially when it comes to creating a healthy environment for sharing ideas and information. 

The threat of litigation has a “chilling effect” on speech, while being mostly abused by public figures. However, balanced reporting has established an enlightening path for society while pushing American media to preserve high quality and reliable journalism; unfortunately not applicable to all media.

This year we saw one such defamation lawsuit brought against a media company related to the crypto industry. On November 11th , Binance Holdings Limited, moved to sue Forbes Media LLC in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey for defamation. Considering that Binance is one of the biggest exchanges, this likely makes Changpeng Zhao a public figure for purposes of defamation law. Courts are much less likely to award damages to public figures for a variety of reasons. Furthermore, there is a heightened burden of proof for public figures in defamation cases as to recover damages, they must prove not only that the statement was defamatory but also that it was made with actual malice.

I believe the implications and/or ramifications associated when filing a defamation suit for crypto -related claims are not clear to many people. Federal courts in the Third Circuit, which includes the District of New Jersey, recognize a qualified "reporter's privilege" based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the common law. These courts have frequently upheld defenses to defamation claims via media shield law. Qualified privilege is a defense to a defamation claim, under which the person making the statement alleged to be defamatory must show that he or she has made the statement in good faith, believing it to be true. Furthermore, under New Jersey's shield law, provided for in N.J. Stat. §§ 2A:84A-21 to 21.8,( and similar to the New York reporter’s privilege, codified in Civil Rights Law § 79-h), reporters are protected from compelled disclosure of confidential information and source, as well as unpublished news gathering information and materials. 

Regardless of how this particular case plays out in the U.S. District Court in New Jersey, the Constitution protects both our freedom of speech and the public’s appetite for information. I truly hope that the first value, free speech, will continue to be our priority across the crypto ecosystem.

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That’s it for now. Special thanks to @christinabahk, who recommended our crypto meme of the month. To send us more memes, make sure to follow us on Twitter, join our Telegram group, and check out our website. Can’t wait to update you all again in January! 

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