Following the request from an ARD/RBB journalist to support a report on bitcoin and the subsequent release of the ARD report Bitcoin Klimakiller we feel obliged to release this statement to voice our concerns about the journalistic standards followed for this report.
We voice our concerns in particular because the journalist was very well briefed by the blockchain community and grossly misrepresented the findings and conclusion, reducing bitcoin to a speculative and energy consuming technology without consideration for any of the upsides. Additionally, the journalist contacted various members of the blockchain community with a seemingly positive and misleading request and with no mention that their input will be used in a very sceptical and one-sided report. The community, including BerChain e.V. has been hesitant to respond to the request initially, yet helpful, in providing references for potential interview partners in the blockchain community. While our involvement was limited to naming potential interview contacts in our response, awaiting more information on how this will be portrayed the journalist took this as a recommendation for a specific company, and did not hesitate to name us as a reference with no further reply to our email.
The interview partner recommended by BerChain subsequently received a similar, positive request for an interview to represent “success stories related to Bitcoin” with no mention of the true intention of the report.
When the report “Bitcoin Klimakiller” was published, it was therefore a big surprise and disappointment to all contributing members of the blockchain community, as none of the parties had been informed that they were not contributing to a report on “success stories”, but much rather to a one-sided and negative report on bitcoin.
Public broadcasting is mandated to report in a neutral, educational and value-free way, paid by public money that everyone in Germany contributes to. Such one-sided reporting and especially the unprofessional behaviour of luring members of the blockchain world into interviews with a different narrative than the report will be about, should not be tolerated by the community and the general public. We sincerely hope this is a quality oversight on the part of the network, and is not generally representative of the reporting quality in public media.
On the part of BerChain e.V., we will be even more careful considering media requests going forward, in particular from biased outlets. We’re puzzled by the agenda followed, and judging from the communication, or lack thereof, we can only conclude that the brief was from the start to produce a heavily one-sided report on bitcoin and to try to get statements from interview partners from the blockchain world by hiding the true intention of the report and telling them that they were contributing to “success stories”.
While BerChain e.V. fully agrees that the debate on bitcoin’s climate impact is an important one to be had (in a balanced way), we disagree with the methods that were followed by ARD/RBB in producing this report.