The crypto space is in turmoil. After the ARD broadcast an article on Bitcoin in its magazine “Kontraste”, criticism rained. The core reproach: statements were twisted and taken out of context. In general, the report was not nuanced enough. But what actually happened?
Last Thursday, the ARD magazine “Kontraste” published one Bitcoin contribution. It was about the exorbitant power consumption of the crypto currency and its climate-damaging consequences. So far, so good – because criticism of the ecological balance of the digital store is debatable, but not new. So what drove the crypto space to the barricades?
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The criticism can mainly be summarized as follows: Statements have been twisted and taken out of context. In addition, many felt that the representation of the maintainers of the Bitcoin network was wrong, as the reporting created the impression that the core maintainers could bring about more climate-friendly changes, but would reject this out of greed for profit. Interlocutors who were contacted for the contribution also reported twisted or omitted statements to BTC-ECHO. For example, says Werner Hoffmann, managing director of Pekuna, a tax office for cryptocurrencies, that the climate issue was never mentioned during his conversation. And also in the email from the RBB editor that BTC-ECHO received, the focus of the reporting was clearly positive. So it said in the mail:
Bitcoin critics are always loud, and you hear a lot about their views. But what do their advocates say?
E-mail traffic between RBB and Werner Hoffmann.
No response from the ARD
The preliminary editorial talks also went well, so Hoffmann was also scheduled for another ARD contribution. In the interview itself, the focus shifted more in a material direction. Said editor had shown a great deal of interest in the Pekuna boss’s fortune. When he did not want to go into more detail, the journalist gradually lost interest. Hoffmann speculates that a typical “eccentric Bitcoin millionaire” may have been sought. He didn’t want to use this cliché.
After the interview, there was no further feedback from ARD. Hoffmann did not appear in the article. Hoffmann then wrote a formal complaint and challenged the journalist LinkedIn for comment on – no answer. The Pekuna managing director was disappointed with BTC-ECHO:
I am disappointed that the RBB reported so undifferentiated. Especially since the topic for which I was asked was a completely different one. Unfortunately, such examples reduce trust in the media and serve certain groups more as a breeding ground for conspiracy theories and agitation.
Werner Hoffmann opposite BTC-ECHO
“Editor was really well informed”
Werner Hoffmann is not an isolated case. Markus Büch also spoke to BTC-ECHO. The professor from the FOM University was shown in the ARD broadcast for about three seconds. Thematically it was about the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, in the context of which Büch said that Bitcoin was not harmful to the climate and then provided an explicit explanation. Now one could attribute the dubious quality of the contribution to ignorance. After all, the technology behind Bitcoin is still relatively young and sometimes difficult to grasp. In this case, however, the journalist was extremely well informed, says Büch.
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During the interview I was actually amazed because the journalist knew all the relevant terms directly. If I had not “participated” in the article, I would probably have blamed the poor quality of the report on poor research. But this was not so. The editor was really knowledgeable.
Markus Büch opposite BTC-ECHO
Bitcoin Core Maintainer as “Serious Criminals”
From this point of view, the alleged disregard of journalistic due diligence naturally weighs even more heavily. Then it is all the more surprising when the ARD report first refers to the decentralization of the network, but then describes the Bitcoin Core Maintainer as the “chief developer”. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, says Blocktrainer in one Youtube video. When the ARD asked the block trainer team to contact core maintainer Jonas Schnelli, the YouTube channel passed on a company contact. After the request of the ARD had apparently remained unanswered, Blocktrainer made himself available and answered the questions of the “Kontraste” editorial team. The medium has parts of the mail traffic released. However, these were also not mentioned in the article. Instead, the report portrayed the “chief developers” as serious criminals.
That’s what the ARD says
The broadcasting network probably did not intend that the ARD contribution would trigger a shit storm in the crypto space. On Twitter, however, there is now a real wave of outrage under “#Contrasts”. So far, the editorial staff of the RBB has done little to ensure clarity. There were attempts to explain the program under the YouTube video:
Background information was exchanged during the correspondence between the block trainer and us. Accordingly, Blocktrainer was not quoted. Therefore, we cannot have twisted any of the statements made by Blocktrainer. Calling the six maintainers mentioned as “chief developer” or “chief programmer” is intended to increase the comprehensibility of the work in the German-speaking area. In the context of reporting, it is essential that the bitcoin maintainers occupy an exposed position in the system and thus have the greatest influence on the network. They bear responsibility because they have the potential to initiate a development that ensures more energy efficiency.
RBB on YouTube
BTC-ECHO also asked the RBB for an opinion. In general, you stand by the contribution. However, they are happy that one of the maintainers approached the editorial team. They are currently in talks about an interview. In retrospect, it goes on to say:
In retrospect, we would advertise the expert Alex de Vries differently and mention his work for the Dutch central bank. We understand that Bitcoin is considered beneficial by many for other reasons, but our post was only about the environmental aspect of Bitcoin.
RBB towards BTC-ECHO
On the other hand, not a word was said about the allegations of disregarding and distorting the statements of the other parties involved. Meanwhile, this report is not only damaging the Bitcoin adoption in Germany. Rather, he continues to pour grist on the mills of those who spread conspiracies through aligned, censoring media. Thus, the ARD shot itself in the end in the end.
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