Friday, September 7, 2018

TokenReporter: Payola, who me?

The Update

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Quick thought

There’s a big payola problem in news coverage. It appears in tech journalism, and appears deeply in cryptocurrency and blockchain coverage. What can we do to solve it, and how can we recognize it are some of the real issues that are weighing on us, and could hold the growth of crypto back if we don’t get a handle on it. We’ve talked about it before. And we did another time, before that.

Here’s what we’re talking about:

1) PR agencies or reps taking money to arrange placement of a company/startup/ICO in the media. OK, this is part of the job description, but there’s a right way and a wrong way to accomplish it. The wrong way is puff pieces, pitches that have nothing to do with the journo or outlet being pitched, and promises that the PR person can’t deliver. Writers can falter here by being lazy and running the press release as written, or inserting the startup inside a list of companies they were writing about already.

PR firms

2) Writers taking payment directly from sources / startups / ICOs. This is where it gets really ugly. In traditional news organizations, the sales / advertising operation is firewalled away from the writers. This way, writers are never compelled to write favorably about advertisers.

name and contact info removed: we aren’t advertising their services.

It doesn’t work with freelancers. Freelancers can take payment directly from startups or ICOs, and then go pitch their favorable advertorial to an outlet. This is awful, although outlets are responsible for vetting the contributor. It’s so common, they’re pretty bad at vetting, if the Outline article is remotely accurate.

It also breaks down when writers are susceptible to taking payment. Someone pitching an article idea, saying, “here’s the pitch, you write it, how much?” may get positive responses. It shouldn’t, but humans can be desperate.

What we don’t know is, how much of what we read is paid for as a part of a writer’s contract for writing, and how much is under the table payola? There’s at least eight attempts to try and introduce transparency by using the blockchain, whether it’s assigning value to the article, What none of them attempt to do is expose how much a writer is paid. What none of them attempt to do is give you, the reader, a stake in the news, whether a cut or credit.

And I’m not even going to name any of the ones working on this problem - how else can I show our impartiality, our ethical stance, than to say, this is a problem that is not yet solved. When there’s something we can cautiously recommend, we will. Until then, stay skeptical.

Two token sales to watch 👁️

MEvU (me vs. you) is a person to person betting platform for local and global bets. Whether it’s bar bets, sports, dares, or feats of strength, MEvU lets you put them into smart contracts, and then pay bets with with MVU token. We know that there are a ton of large gambling platforms trying to replace the sports book. The notion that it’s person to person, not just about big sporting events, makes it more appealing to me. You’re betting against a person, not a bookie. The whitepaper is worth a read.

Metadium is a blockchain ecosystem that allows for the expansion of a blockchain platform. Metadium aims to accomplish complete-digitalization of the real world. Metadium solves the issue of online trust and identity and formulates firm connections between identities. ​Essentially, it attempts to give the end user control over their identity and how much information they expose when queried. Partners with Metadium get to reduce costs of identity verification. They’ve taken some investment from Arrington XRP Capital, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your own due diligence: Read the whitepaper for yourself.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly 😊😠👹

😊GOOD: 

Eminem Raps about Bitcoin

Since the boom of Bitcoin in 2017, the crypto-sphere has been increasingly attracting attention. On Eminem’s new album Kamikaze, in a song titled “Not Alike,” Royce Da 59 raps “Remember everybody used to bite Nickel; Now everybody doin’ Bitcoin.” When a music icon like Eminem speaks, heads turn. The ensuing worldwide pop cultural buzz will raise awareness about cryptocurrency to a broader audience.

Still, Eminem is not the only artist to reference Bitcoin. Recently, Snoop Dogg performed for the XRP community at the New York Blockchain Week. Moreover, Hollywood is preparing a Bitcoin thriller aptly called Crypto.

Blockchain-based Startup Civil Partners with Associated Press to Save Journalism

A two-year-old crypto startup Civil has just announced a partnership with The Associated Press. They are planning to use a blockchain-enabled licensing feature to protect journalism.

Securing intellectual property rights on the Internet is difficult. Civil proposes a blockchain-based solution to track the flow of content, eliminate thievery, and make sure the creators get credit for their work.

😠BAD: 

North Korea Attempts Bitcoin Mining to Finance Regime

On August 27, Yonhap News reported that between May and July 2017 North Korea attempted a small mining operation. Simultaneously, South Korea’s state-run Korea Development Bank claims that a tech film Chosun Expo is developing an exchange platform for Bitcoin. It seems the regime is increasingly interested in the digital coin. The appeal of cryptocurrency lies in its defining characteristics, such as “anonymity, difficulties of tracing money and cashability.”

"My reading of the situation is that North Korea is desperate for funds and hard currency. It will do anything to earn income and circumvent the international sanctions placed on it,” Nah Liang Tuang, a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University, told Korea Times.

👹UGLY: 

China’s Enforces Crypto Ban

Just after China banned all crypto-related promotional events in Beijing’s Chaoyang district in mid-August, this week the authorities extended the prohibition to include the Guangzhou Development District. Guangzhou is a special economic zone in southern China located in close proximity to Hong Kong. South China Morning Post informs that the official notice cited “maintaining the security and stability of the financial system” as part of the reason for the decision.

Chinese authorities seem to have decided to snuff out the digital coin in the region completely. The crackdown continues with Chinese tech giant Baidu following in the steps of Alibaba, and Tencent. South China Morning Post reports the restrictions on crypto also include the social app WeChat and payment provider AliPay.

News 🆕

“Operation Cryptosweep” Investigates 200 ICOs and Crypto-firms

Operation Cryptosweep is a coordinated effort of over 40 jurisdictions both in the US and in Canada. First launched in May by the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), it aims to crack down on unregistered and fraudulent crypto-projects. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton has publicly praised the initiative.

NASAA informed this Tuesday that it has brought over 200 enforcement actions against ICOs and firms offering cryptocurrency investment products.

However, NASAA President Joseph P. Borg remarked, “not every ICO or cryptocurrency-related investment is a fraud.” Moreover, he said that “a strong culture of compliance should be in place before, not after, these products are marketed to investors."

California Passes Bill to Create Blockchain Tech Working Group

California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 2658, which establishes a blockchain technology working group. The group will examine the potential benefits this technology can offer. The bill will now head to the governor for approval. 

Back in June, Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy signed into law SB 443. The bill created a working group to study blockchain and a plan to expand the industry in the state. Disclosure

We will run advertising in the newsletter and if would like to appear at the beginning or end of this newsletter please email joanna@cabalpartners.com We do not expect that we will run a token sale to fund this newsletter but Victor or I may run our own token sales later in the year.

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