OLD Media Moves

The ethics of owning bitcoin

June 10, 2021

Posted by Chris Roush

Timothy B. Lee

Former Washington Post tech reporter Timothy B. Lee, the founder of Rethinking News, writes about the ethics of reporters owning bitcoin and recounts how the newspaper made him sell his cryptocurrency.

Lee writes, “The most clear-cut conflicts of interest occur when a reporter has a direct financial relationship with a company he covers. For example, no reputable news organization would let me do consulting work for Google while writing about the technology sector, since I’d have to worry that negative coverage of Google would cause them to stop paying me.

“Owning an asset creates a more subtle conflict of interest. If I owned a lot of Google stock, I wouldn’t have to worry about Google taking it away from me. But readers could still reasonably worry that wishful thinking about my stock might color my judgment—or even that I might deliberately shade my coverage to boost the value of my stock holdings. Someone who owns Google stock is literally invested in Google’s success, and the financial investment might give rise to a psychological investment as well.

“Human beings aren’t perfectly rational creators. As any real estate agent will tell you, people are constantly over-estimating the value of their homes.

“So too with bitcoin. It might have been hard for me to be objective about bitcoin if it grew to account for a majority of my net worth.”

Read more here.

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