One hundred days after its launch, DL News aims to offer a fresh approach in crypto journalism.
“Having people on the ground, waiting outside a courtroom all day, was unheard of in crypto media,” Managing Editor Ekin Genç said.
He was referring to our coverage of the arrest in Montenegro on March 23 of Do Kwon, who had been on the run since the $60 billion collapse of Terra in May last year.
The initial report — and series of follow-up articles “was one of our proudest achievements,” Ekin said.
“People appreciate the fact that we don’t pick up tweets and treat it as news — a common practice in crypto media,” he added. They like “the added value” which comes from “original reporting and original takes about things they care about.”
Readers also welcome DL News’ coverage of stories that are ignored by mainstream media, Ekin said.
One such story, on April 3, questioned the part played by Alexander Ivanov, founder of the Waves protocol, in a $530 million loss.
Ivanov accused DL News of spreading FUD, crypto shorthand for fear, uncertainty and doubt.
“Stop harassing Waves people, you’re being ridiculous,” he tweeted.
His complaint was eclipsed by comments from other readers.
“Great article by @TimInCrypto about the whole $WAVES situation. This still deserves more attention from mainstream publications,” said one.
“Now @DLNewsInfo, owned by @DefiLlama, is writing about it … We appreciate that eyes are being opened,” tweeted another.
Ekin, who published more than 600 articles as a freelance contributor to other media before taking up his current position, says DL News has broken the mould in another way.
“Crypto is in danger of becoming an echo chamber, and that’s reflected in crypto media. If one person criticises someone or some project, then we see crypto media taking a similar tone,” he said.
In contrast, he pointed to DL News’ coverage of the theft of more than $1.8 million from the DeFi project Merlin after it had been audited by CertiK.
“There was a lot of criticism on Twitter but no one went to check with CertiK. Everybody reprinted the criticism,” Ekin said. “Talking to CertiK we were able to present their view on the matter; that added nuance to the story.”
The Merlin heist added to an impression of CertiK’s unreliability that had been growing for several years. Ekin said that working on the story enabled him to see that “a lot of the criticism CertiK received in the past was not right.”
Unlike other auditors, CertiK had examined hundreds, rather than tens, of projects. That meant its fail rate was high compared to auditor who were “more selective and more expensive,” Ekin said.
“I wouldn’t have the chance to realise that if I were writing for others. I wouldn’t have had so much time to spend on this and really take in hardcore journalistic ethical principles rather than just doing crypto writing.”
DL News began hiring administrative staff and journalists a few weeks after Terra failed.
“Recruitment was incredibly challenging, both because salary expectations in the crypto media world were still quite high, and because mainstream journalists were hesitant to make the jump,” Director Paige Aarhus recalled.
“The industry seemed very rickety. We had to prove that we were serious in our mission, which is to focus on original reporting and in-depth investigations.”
Six weeks before we published our first article, an interview with Andre Cronje, FTX collapsed and Sam Bankman-Fried was arrested.
Some media began saying that crypto was dead. DL News kept its nerve, however, and went ahead with its formal launch on January 31.
The 100-day period since the launch ends on Friday, May 12.
“Building during a bear market is the right strategy,” Paige said.
“The aftermath of the most recent downturn has given us a ton of editorial material and story ideas. People outside of the crypto community are paying attention to the industry, which is what we want.”
Paige said she is hopeful for the future.
“Crypto is becoming more mature, more sophisticated, slowly but surely. And some of the bad actors from previous cycles are now beginning to face consequences, which again is great for a newsroom,” she explained.
There has been some recovery in crypto, but it is still a bear market, in Paige’s view, “so we are justifiably cautious about near-term plans. Explosive growth is probably not the right approach for an outlet like us,” she added.
“We really do want quality coverage, which requires time and investment.”
At the same time: “We have been on a hiring stint for the past month, and will likely continue recruiting over the next several months. We want to boost our output and coverage, at a steady pace, and attract more readers to build a solid audience. That’s the best way to be sustainable.”