Yesterday, Newsweek published an appallingly undocumented, poorly researched and thoroughly offensive piece of crap roughly on par with the stuff Forbes or CNN publish on those anyone-can-edit pages that grandmothers and other obsolete intellects occasionally take seriously.
The contention was that they "had found Satoshi Nakamoto". There's a laundry list of problems with this, skimming among which :
- That no one cares who Satoshi is irl. It makes absolutely zero difference. None. Zilch. The entire thing is about as interesting as establishing "the real identity" of Shakespeare : the sort of thing that captures the imagination of the fringe nuts, the sort of thing that peripheral pulpy "literature" magazines occasionally dedicate an article to. On slow weeks, when nobody was sober enough for seven days running to write any better.
- That identity and identification doesn't work the way Newsweek imagines it works. Asking a dozen or so people who spent their entire lives so far pining and aspiring to one day "be on TV", and thus "famous" and obviously "Oprah rich" misshapen questions about whether "this doodle could have been doodled by Rembrandt" is, if you'll pardon the expression, pisswasser. Yes, even if you obtain fifty million testimonials from fifty million derps going "Gee gosh golly, I reckon it may well be", you still don't have a story. You have some old chewing gum scraped off someone's boot. Even if you name it "Leah Goodman" it's still going to be some old chewing gum scraped off someone's boot. Who cares ? And what's next, Newsweek ? Trainspotting ? Are you going to keep us appraised of the conspiracy theories discussing why train XYZ was replaced with train XYZ' and how exactly delays are rounded to the closest full minute ?
- That you published some poor schmuck's home address, for all the weirdos out there. The guy received you with the police, because apparently he figured you're worse than fucking retarded. Take a hint, Newsweek, would you ?
- Still no retraction. Still no apology. Still no public castigation of the disgusting attention whore you employed.
That last point is particularly sore, because Newsweek came up with the following fresh pile of steaming doo doo :
Leah McGrath Goodman’s recent cover story for Newsweek, investigating the identity of Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, has generated an immense amount of international attention, including denials from Mr. Nakamoto, criticism of Ms. Goodman’s reporting and ad hominem attacks on her character.
Newsweek published this story because we felt it is an important one. While the virtual currency has become popular, it remains mysterious and volatile. We recognized a public interest in establishing some core facts about Bitcoin and better informing those who might invest money in it.
Ms. Goodman’s research was conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years. Newsweek stands strongly behind Ms. Goodman and her article. Ms. Goodman’s reporting was motivated by a search for the truth surrounding a major business story, absent any other agenda. The facts as reported point toward Mr. Nakamoto’s role in the founding of Bitcoin.
It is natural and expected for a major news revelation such as this to spark debate and controversy. Many of the greatest journalistic scoops have prompted similar reaction. Such debate is part of the democratic process and essential to the functioning of a free press. Newsweek is committed to furthering that spirit of open discourse. At the same time, Newsweek encourages fellow members of the press and the public at large to focus on analysis of the facts at hand rather than rush to assumptions or resort to emotion.
Moreover, it encourages all to be respectful of the privacy and rights of the individuals involved.
Much like in the case of the original piece, everything in there is wrong, stupid and offensive.
- For one thing, the original turd didn't generate a lot of "international attention", it originated a lot of international ridicule. The difference is important.i This article for instance doesn't reflect my attention, it reflects my contempt. Not the same thing. Attention may perhaps make me consider spending some of my money to advertise in the venue, contempt will definitely make me make a point of never spending a cent there, ever.
- Newsweek published this story strictly because it has no clue whatsoever as to what constitutes news. That's it.
- There is utterly no relation between Bitcoin volatility as Newsweek uninformedly perceives it and Bitcoin "mystery". There is further no relation whatsoever between said "mystery" (which strictly stems from ignorance, otherwise the entire codebase is published, and has been publicly available for many years now - all it takes is someone literate to read it) and Satoshi's identity. None whatsoever. And for that matter, the happenstance of Satoshi's fiat-side profile has exactly zero relation to any sort of core fact about Bitcoin. I can scarcely apprehend the confusion of ideas that'd lead one to believe otherwise.
- If indeed the crap published, apparently unsupervised, in Newsweek was "research", and "conducted under the same high editorial and ethical standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years" then those standards may be anything but high. I defy Newsweek to indicate one single rule of ethical conduct or point of editorial common sense that were followed in this case. Pick one, anything. In point of fact, this sad adventure would be insufficient for those involved to gather a passing grade in a sophomore journalism course at a midwestern agricultural college : a chick went through the civil registry looking for people whose legal name matched a pseudonym, drove to the nearest one (apparently Newsweek has run out of Frequent Flier Miles ?) and interviewed a number of random people passing by. How is this journalism ? It barely qualifies as social sciences research.
- If this story was motivated by a quest for truth I am an alien shooting lasers from my ears. The story was motivated by one woman's attention seeking behaviour, and it made it through because Newsweek exercises no editorial control whatsoever. I could probably publish an article about how I've found the real Elvis Presley if I could be bothered, and Newsweek'd "stand behind it", to everyone's amusement.
- There was absolutely no news, let alone "revelation" or "major". A metric ton of such bullshit was already published to date : The New Yorker's Satoshi is Michael Clear ; Fast Company's Satoshi is (Neal King, Vladimir Oksman and Charles Bry). Business Insider's satoshi is Nick Szabo. On it goes, the list is about as long as one'd care to make it.
- The fact that many journalistic hits have created controversy is not germane to our present discussion. The pretense just piles further ridicule upon Newsweek's already full plate, something akin to the guy stopped after a traffic incident, found DUI who then proceeds to claim that "many superheroes crash cars and act erratically". Sure, sure.
- Finally, Newsweek "encouraging" members of the public to "focus on facts" and "respect the privacy of individuals" is beyond outrageous, given Newsweek's own demonstrated disregard for facts, focus on emotion and despicable contempt for individuals' privacy. You are in no position to "encourage" anyone to anything, it's like Corzine encouraging brokerage houses to segregate customer accounts and Kenneth Lay encouraging businesses to keep good accounting. No shit Sherlock, seriously ?
It's too late for an apology, Newsweek. You may have survived 80 years, but there won't be 100. And when you go, we won't remember the first 20, we'll remember the last 20. Good riddance, and may you be quickly forgotten.———
- Tellingly, Newsweek apparently counts Satoshi debunking their nonsense under the heading of attention. That's what they've come to, the topic of their article laughing at them is "an immense amount of international attention." If this is not the lowest anyone may sink then I can scarcely imagine what the lowest'd be. I suppose as far as the Newsweek editor is concerned, foreclosure notices from the bank count as letters of credit. [↩]