A new investigation by BREAKER Magazine has reveal that a significant portion of the cryptocurrency news ecosystem do not maintain journalistic integrity since they accept money in exchange for covering specific news/coins.
To elicit answers they created a shell email and identity, Nikolay Kostarev, a Moscow-based PR agent, with a photo. However, they did not create a fake website nor domain to limit the level of deception. They sent a preliminary email to 28 crypto news outlets saying Nikolay is “representing a blockchain PR company from Moscow, Russia, and would like information on the rate for advertising on [WEBSITE].” Of those that replied, they sent a second email saying “Thank you for the reply and information. Many of my ICO clients want coverage written about them. But some would like it to not be marked “Sponsored”. Is this possible?”
“Of the 22 outlets who replied conclusively, 12 of them—more than half the total—were willing to publish paid content without disclosing it as such.”
The BREAKER team added that “only the websites that unambiguously offered to publish native content, unlabelled, for a price are included in the total”. Thus, the results don’t include “two outlets that hinted at being willing to do so under certain conditions, but did not ultimately confirm it.”
The rates tended to vary based off the traffic that each site offers. NewsBTC responded to further inquiry by saying that “this is not their policy” and the “sales executive offering this has been removed from their company active immediately and won’t be dealing with/offering our advertising (or otherwise) services again, be it to a PR company, a reseller or anyone else.” However, NewsBTC declined to give further evidence. Bitcoinist highlighted that removing the sponsored content tag simply raises its popularity position, but “always carries a disclaimer of some sort”. The outlets that refused to publish any sponsored content without a clear label were: BraveNewCoin, Coinjournal, CryptosRus, CCN, Mineable, Oracle Times, and ZyCrypto
Importance of journalistic integrity in the cryptocurrency space
The author, Corin, highlighted that when a news organization begins to accept money for coverage then the whole concept of news is called into question. Corin added that “it’s no longer an indication of what’s relevant or important in the field, but more a reflection of who has the deepest pockets”. Laura Shin, the popular Unchained host, further elaborated on this fact.
“I think it’s awful. These outlets are basically profiting from their readers losing money. It’s almost like a pump and dump scheme”.
David Wachsman, CEO of Wachsman PR, who is also employed by Dash Core Group, further highlighted the importance of journalistic integrity in the cryptocurrency industry as a whole.
“When press releases or full articles are posted onto third-party websites and are not clearly marked as paid for, or ‘sponsored,’ it becomes an unethical representation of information. For communications professionals working to place stories on behalf of these companies, it can be challenging to see a breakdown in the ethics of journalism. It’s imperative that these professionals provide real value by fostering strong relationships with reporters and communicating the intricate details of a company, project, or technology.”
There are some instances before of fake news on other websites that Dash Force News has covered. There are also numerous outlets that are focused on a specific coin to educated their consumer base about hyper-specific news that might not otherwise be able to make it into coin-agnostic publications. This does not necessarily mean that they are articles that would have to be paid for, but just have a niche consumer base that are interested and thus requires a more refined news website. These coin-specific websites include Bitcoin.com for Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum World News for Ethereum, and Dash Force News for Dash.
Dash Force News is committed to honesty and transparency
To our knowledge, Dash Force News was the first, and may be the only, DAO funded news organization. DFN has always been open, transparent, and proud about its funding from the Dash DAO network, which allows the news site to find and explore news from all over the Dash ecosystem and bring it to the community’s attention when they might not have otherwise know about the information. DFN also covers general cryptocurrency news, in addition to Dash-specific news that interests the community, but is always committed to truthful and honest news coverage to maintain integrity and help represent Dash as a quality network. Nevertheless, DFN still makes occasional mistakes like all individuals, but when pointed out to us, we quickly update articles and log the changes to maintain transparency with readers.
Additionally, even though DFN is funded by the Dash network, DFN is still an independent organization that is able to hold Dash Core Group and other Dash organizations accountable. This all stems from DFN’s funding model from the DAO, which incentivizes DFN to provide valuable, useful, enjoyable, and truthful information to the Dash ecosystem or it risks being defunded by the Dash masternode community.