Newsweek’s Bitcoin cover – authoritarian broadcast journalism vs crowdsourced factfinding

 'Newsweek' (EE.UU.)

: Why Newsweek isn’t convincing |
[Via  Felix Salmon]

I had a 2-hour phone conversation with Leah McGrath Goodman yesterday. Goodman wrote the now-notorious Newsweek cover story about Dorian Nakamoto, which purported to out him as the inventor of bitcoin. At this point, it’s pretty obvious that the world is not convinced: in that sense, the story did not do its job.

As Anil Dash says, the geek world is the most skeptical. Almost all of the critiques and notations attempting to show that Dorian is not Satoshi are coming from geeks, which makes sense. If the world is what you perceive the world to be, then there is almost no overlap between the world of geeks in general, and bitcoin geeks in particular, on the one hand, and the world of a magazine editor like Jim Impoco, on the other hand. As a result, there’s a lot of mutual incomprehension going on here, which has resulted in an unnecessarily adversarial level of aggression.


Another demonstration of the battle between top-down authoritarians and the bottom-up crowd.

Very obviously Newsweek is living in the 90s using a model for journalism that is pretty much gone.

They expect people to believe them because … of their reputation. They do not have the room to publish ALL their data so just trust them. They are the authorities here so value their reputation.

Of course, none of that means that they are right. In the last 10 years, crowdsourced fact-finding is the norm.

Newsweek needs millions of people to read them in order to survive. It needs to be seen as a top-down authority to be trusted.

That is simply not a sustainable business model in the current world. The online community decimated their article, reducing the authority of Newsweek in hours and damaging its reputation.

Maybe 25 years ago, Newsweek and others could have used their authoritarian power to stifle the debate. But not today.

Then they could get away with”I have so much more data but there is not any room. Trust me. I’m a reporter is a great reputation,” Now, put the damn data up on the Internet and let us see for ourselves.

Authoritarians so often fall into Cargo Cult Worlds because of confirmation bias and epistemic closure. They so surrounded by the model they like that they have to make it be true.

.For example:

Towards the end of Goodman’s investigation, when she was preparing to try to meet with Dorian Nakamoto in person, Goodman told Impoco that if it didn’t turn out to be Dorian, then “we’ve got nobody”. That’s what Impoco was most likely talking about, when he talked about eliminating people. Goodman — and Impoco, more recently — was just saying that this was her last open thread, and that if Dorian didn’t pan out as the guy, then they didn’t have a story.

So, if they did not get the quote they wanted, all their work and the cover story would have been gone, worthless. Gee, do you think they might have had some impetus then to find some way to make the sotry come out the way they wanted, no matter what?

It happens all the time in reserhc. Why not in journalism? Even with people that have great reputations.