How often do you read Bitcoin or blockchain news sites? Are there some you trust more than others, and how certain are you that you’re not just reading paid advertorials? Before believing everything you read in an article, it’s important to remember a few truths about the blockchain industry, and online media in general.
“Fake news” is one of the past decade’s favorite catchphrases. It’s often overused. People on all points of the opinion spectrum—political or technological—deploy it against any writer they feel is biased against their own belief system.
On the other hand, it’s also a legitimate term to describe articles published deliberately to mislead and misinform. And there’s a lot of that around.
Then there’s plain old bias and advocacy reporting. Story choice, structure and word use is an effective tool in fighting for a particular worldview. Ordinary bias is hard to avoid, and it’s often subconscious. Every individual has opinions and every organization has a mission. Even when you’re trying to be completely impartial and maintain a distance from the topic you’re covering, bias kicks in on a subconscious level.
What you need to be more aware of, though, is good old-fashioned “checkbook journalism”. That expression itself gives an indication of how long it’s been around. It’s different to (conscious or subconscious) bias. It’s more akin to the tradition of a mercenary; a professional soldier who cares more about making a profit than any cause they’re fighting for.
At least the merely-biased actually believe in the causes they advocate. Mercenary reporters and entire “news” sites are happy to publish any piece of writing, no matter how potentially harmful, as long as they’re making money from it.
And some companies will pay well to get their names,