CoinDesk, a leading news organization in the cryptocurrency industry, made history as they received their first major journalism award, the George Polk Award for financial reporting. Ian Allison and Tracy Wang of CoinDesk were recognized for their investigative journalism that led to the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s $32 billion cryptocurrency empire in just a matter of days.
Here are the key highlights of the trio of honored CoinDesk stories:
The Nov. 2, 2021 story by Allison, a senior reporter, exposed that Sam Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, was on shaky financial footing, which was not publicly known. It showed that a significant portion of Alameda’s assets was secretly made up of FTT, a sort of digital Monopoly money issued by Bankman-Fried’s better-known FTX crypto exchange.
Within days of the story’s publication, the price of FTT plummeted, and Bankman-Fried agreed to a bailout from rival exchange Binance. But as revealed by another Polk-winning scoop from Allison, Binance got cold feet and backed out of the deal.
Wang, a deputy managing editor, provided the third CoinDesk scoop honored by the Polk Awards. Her story revealed that Bankman-Fried and nine co-workers lived together in a luxury Bahamas condominium and at times dated each other while running his companies – including the fact that Bankman-Fried and Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison had once been a couple.
These stories raised concerns about the stability of Alameda and FTX, Bankman-Fried’s image as a white knight capable of backstopping struggling companies, and conflicts of interest within his companies.
The impact of CoinDesk’s reporting was felt throughout the crypto industry, and it even hurt CoinDesk’s corporate sibling Genesis and parent company Digital Currency Group, underscoring CoinDesk’s editorial independence and dedication to telling important stories.
The George Polk Awards are among the most prestigious prizes in journalism, emphasizing “investigative work that is original, resourceful, and thought-provoking.” Allison and Wang’s work exemplified these qualities and helped maintain the credibility of the crypto industry through probing, well-informed, professional journalism.
CoinDesk’s win was a milestone for crypto media and highlights the importance of journalism in the industry. More than 2,000 news stories have credited CoinDesk for setting off the chain of events, including from high-profile publications like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Financial Times, The Verge, New York Magazine, CNN, and NPR’s “Planet Money” podcast.
In conclusion, CoinDesk’s George Polk Award win has shown the power of investigative journalism and the critical role that credible media plays in the cryptocurrency industry. The award-winning stories by Allison and Wang have exposed the complexities and potential risks within the industry, highlighting the need for more probing and well-informed journalism to cover the fast-changing crypto landscape.