Mediatwits #113: Did Newsweek Bungle Bitcoin Founder Unmasking? Plus: A Report from SXSW

    by Claire Groden
    March 14, 2014
    Stephanie Murphy of Let's Talk Bitcoin joined our podcast this week to discuss Newsweek's article that claimed to reveal the founder of Bitcoin.

    Last week, Newsweek resurrected its print issue with a splash, featuring a story that claimed to reveal the founder of Bitcoin as a reclusive Californian named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto. But readers were skeptical, especially after Nakamoto protested in an interview with the Associated Press that he was not the founder of Bitcoin. On Friday, Newsweek released a short statement supporting the reporter, Laura McGrath Goodman, and asking critics to remain civil. While McGrath Goodman has claimed in interviews that she has more information to prove her argument, the absence of persuasive evidence in the article has led many journalists, including frequent MediaShift guests Jay Rosen and Felix Salmon, unconvinced. This week, special guest Stephanie Murphy, co-host of the “Let’s Talk Bitcoin” podcast, will discuss the Newsweek story and fallout. We’ll also be joined by NPR’s Elise Hu, who will give us an update fresh from the SXSW conference in Austin. Regular guest Andrew Lih from American University and MediaShift’s Mark Glaser will join the discussion, as well as the Mediatwits’ managing producer Fannie Cohen.

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    mark glaser ISOJ headshotMark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He is a longtime freelance writer and editor, who has contributed to magazines such as Entertainment Weekly, Wired and Conde Nast Traveler, and websites such as CNET and the Yale Global Forum. He lives in San Francisco with his wife Renee and son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

    AndrewLih_270x210Andrew Lih is a new media journalist and associate professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication. He is the author of “The Wikipedia Revolution” (Hyperion 2009, Aurum UK 2009) and is a noted expert on online collaboration and journalism. He is a veteran of AT&T Bell Laboratories and in 1994 created the first online city guide for New York City (www.ny.com). Follow him on Twitter @fuzheado.


    fanFannie Cohen is the managing producer for the MediaTwits Podcast. Her work has appeared on WNYC New York Public Radio and SiriusXM. You can follow her @yofannie.


    NYC pic croppedStephanie Murphy, PhD, is a voiceover artist, talk show host, and former research biochemist, who has been interested in Bitcoin since 2011. She is a host of the popular podcast Let’s Talk Bitcoin, and of the nationally syndicated radio show Free Talk Live. Stephanie is Chief Operations officer at Fr33 Aid, a bitcoin-based charity.

    EliseElise Hu covers technology and culture for NPR’s on-air and online platforms. She joined NPR in 2011 to head up the digital launch of StateImpact, a DuPont award-winning public policy reporting network. Previously, she was a founding journalist at the non-profit digital news startup, The Texas Tribune. While working as a political reporter, she also oversaw the Tribune’s social and multimedia journalism, statewide television partnerships and toyed around with new story forms. Outside of work, she’s an adviser to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and serves as a regular panelist for the Knight News Challenge.


    The identity of the founder of Bitcoin, the digital currency, has always been a mystery, hidden behind the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The founder was careful to conceal his/her identity, and until a few days ago, hadn’t posted anything online since 2011. After Newsweek ran its cover story contending that Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was the Bitcoin founder, critics have attacked the story. There was even what appeared to be a denial from the actual founder of Bitcoin, who posted in a forum that he is not Dorian Nakamoto. This denial only added more fuel to the fire. Linguistic analyses, doubt among coders about Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto’s cryptography skills, and the identified man’s own firm denial have all contributed to a general feeling of disbelief across the Internet. Should Newsweek have published this article? Is there a different way that McGrath Goodman might have written it?

    Report from SXSW

    Each year, Austin is inundated with media makers large and small for the SXSW Festival, celebrating music, film, interactive and more. This year NSA leaker Edward Snowden spoke via video to the festival. What else has been stirring the pot this year? Has the festival reached overkill yet? We’ll hear from NPR’s Elise Hu to get the latest.


    Newsweek Unmasks Bitcoin Founder (NYTimes Dealbook)

    Richard Engel Temporarily Detained in Russia With His Crew (Huffington Post)

    Tons of People Visited Healthcare.gov After Obama ‘Between Two Ferns’ Appearance (Huffington Post)

    Edward Snowden Talks Privacy at SXSW (TIME)

    Claire Groden is the podcast intern for PBS Mediashift and a senior at Dartmouth College. You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireGroden.

    Tagged: bitcoin Bitcoin founder media ethics newsweek sxsw

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