Why Mainstream Media Gets Bitcoin Mining Wrong
Two bitcoin mining journalists explain the challenges of reporting on mining and explore why mainstream journalists often get mining wrong.
Bitcoin miners are all too familiar with the bad reporting and misinformation that often comes from mainstream media outlets covering the mining sector. In this livestream, Compass discusses the seemingly constant challenges facing mainstream media outlets that cover bitcoin mining with two crypto-native mining journalists:
This livestream is important for anyone who wants to understand why journalists sometimes misunderstand and misrepresent mining and for reporters who want to learn about properly covering the mining sector.
- David Pan, Coindesk: He started his career at Coindesk in September 2019 covering crypto and blockchain. He started covering mining in summer 2021 after the Chinese migration.
- Wolfie Zhao, The Block: He is currently working at The Block. He started his career at Coindesk in 2017 covering crypto. In summer 2018 he moved into mining coverage with a focus on mining.
Why do you cover mining? (timestamp)
- David: I covered it for practical reasons, at first being bilingual was required to cover mining. For example, journalists needed to look at Chinese documents and interview Chinese miners.
- Wolfie: In 2018 there was a lack of mining coverage and I wanted to fill the need. I started to enjoy reporting on it and learning about mining history.
The learning curve for bitcoin mining (timestamp)
- It takes time to understand where to get good information and learn about the sub sectors of the industry.
- Talking to bitcoin miners helps the learning process, these miners provide context.
- When writing about mining, journalists have to cater to a mainstream audience and speak intelligently to cater to mining professionals.
Interacting with the mining industry as a journalist (timestamp)
- Bitcoin miners are not concerned about increasing their media attention.
- Many miners and large producers generate profits using discrete information and prefer less attention.
- Journalists have to trade information with miners to spark valuable discussions and provide alpha.
- Hosting firm operators are a party in the bitcoin mining industry that have an incentive to speak to the media.
- Miners in the west are more willing to engage vs miners in East, they put out press releases and have website.
- Bitmain gets a lot of media attention.
- Manufacturers and mining pool operators get constant media attention.
- F2pool was open to speaking to the media in 2018 after the crypto market crash.
Why is reporting on mining so difficult? (timestamp)
- The mining process is simple from a high level but there are a lot of nuances that can’t be simplified.
- Mining technicals are difficult to simply but leaving them out completely can make stories incomplete.
- There are a lot of players outside miners that must be covered.
- Energy markets, energy consumption, and the differences between ASIC models are hard to simply.
- Mining is the part of the crypto economy that is the closest to the real economy (simple overall but in reality, very complex).
- Mining data collection is difficult, but stories can not be reliable without them.
- Using mining data sometimes requires making assumptions.
- Many journalists believe mining is a waste of resources because they don’t understand intrinsic value, proof of work, and hard money. This leads to biased reporting.
Examples of bad mining headlines (timestamp)
- A lack of nuance causes low quality journalism.
- Mainstream media coverage about China wanting to ban bitcoin mining after the Chinese government put out a draft to phase out bitcoin mining was misrepresented by the mainstream media.
- “Bitcoin mining on track to consume all energy by 2020” article was way off.
- Mining crackdowns and machines going offline don’t effect bitcoin supply, many journalists make this mistake.
- Journalists exaggerate the effects of miner selling on bitcoin price.
What are your go-to data sources? (timestamp)
- Mining pool data, specifically, US based mining pools data
- Speaking to primary sources is a good practice (miners, manufacturers, people on the ground, etc.)
- BTC.com – real time changes in hashrate
- Profitability per ASIC – f2pool data
- Luxor – overall data aggregation
- Alibaba.com – prices of ASIC rigs
What are some areas you’re looking to expand on or start covering? (timestamp)
- Wolfie: interested in covering public mining firms and manufacturers.
- David: interested in covering crypto regulations, specifically segmented by states. This would be useful for miners.
- David: Interested in covering Ethereum mining dynamics and NFT markets.
Tips on how to properly to understand mining (timestamp)
- Journalists must eliminate bias before starting coverage.
- Journalists should talk to as many people in the industry as possible, this will help them capture insights that are not present in data.