Journalism and Cryptocurrency

Oct 23, 2018   |   by Hermione Daguin   |   Thought Leaders & More

On a mini documentary published on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, The Wall Street Journal announced that it created a cryptocurrency to better understand the market. The cryptocurrency, named WSJCoin, was created by WSJ journalist Steven Russolillo, and Japanese developer Makuto Takemiya. Russolillo first came up with the idea through observing the growing crypto world. He wanted to help the population understand how the crypto economy worked while helping journalism find real use cases in this developing industry.

Russolillo and Takemiya used the Hyperledger’s Iroha blockchain as the basis for WSJ Coin. By averaging the supply of the top ten cryptocurrencies in the market, they settled on fixing their supply at 8.4 billion units. The pair distributed about 150 physical WSJCoins to a panel discussing the subject at the Wall Street Journal’s D.Live annual technology conference in Hong Kong. However, only two of the coins reached the market and were used before the test was shut down.

The project was shut down by Neil Lipschitz, editor for ethics and standards, who believed that the coin violated the publication’s ethical codes. According to Lipschitz, WSJ is there to report and explain the news, not to make it. Making a cryptocurrency would go against the purpose of the journal, so it cannot be done. Despite the shut down, some experts who were at the panel believe that this coin opened up a door between these two industries that would allow for greater exploration.

Due to WSJ’s invention, the Associated Press decided to sign a content licensing partnership with Civil, a blockchain-based startup. The signed document allows blockchain companies to secure intellectual property rights while supporting ethical journalism. It also allows them to track content usage with blockchain technology.

Although WSJCoin was short lived, it revealed how much the world is yearning for more knowledge on the cryptocurrency industry. Cryptocurrencies are still considered a new concept and journalism doesn’t have much to go on. Reports about events in the crypto community are usually done by blockchain forums and online blogs. Other mainstream newspapers have very little to report, not because they don’t see the news that’s happening, they don’t always know how to report it.

Changes happen in the crypto market every minute just like the stock market. However, the world understands the stock market enough for every newspaper to tell their readers exactly what’s happening, why it’s happening, and what’s the impact on the future. News reports are not often written with as much fine details as the events happening in the crypto market are. Journalist Russolillo realized that. Although it’s true that a newspaper shouldn’t be creating cryptocurrencies, it’s also true that there are not a lot of real use cases to report. Having people use cryptocurrencies in their everyday lives would open up a door for journalism to be able to understand the implications of certain events and changes.

Hermione Daguin

Hermione is a Haitian-born writer who has been living in the USA since 2010. She earned her Bachelor’s degrees in English Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies at Florida International University. She has done both creative and technical writing during her years in the writing industry. She’s currently pursuing a career in the medical field.