Welcome to ‘On The Record’ with YAP Global – a series where we speak to the journalists behind the stories that keep you up-to-date on the pulse of the digital asset, DeFi, blockchain and cryptocurrency industry
Cameron Thompson is a news reporter for CoinDesk, living in New York but originally from Los Angeles.
Before CoinDesk, Cameron attended Tufts University where she majored in Economics and Science and Technology. She was also the marketing director of the Tufts Blockchain Club, where she pivoted her passion into a career.
Cameron is particularly interested in how the NFT landscape acts as a vehicle for Web3 adoption.
1. Tell me a bit about yourself your background, how you got into journalism and why you chose crypto journalism, not mainstream journalism.
I had been interested in crypto for a while. For about three years, I’ve been kind of following the space. So you know, not as long as the people who are really in and out, but enough to kind of understand, the fact that we can come out of bear markets and see amazing bull runs, and then go into terrible market conditions again.
So it’s definitely a crazy ride and something that I wanted to be immersed in because I feel like this is the future.
A lot of Web3 blockchain technologies are things that I want to be able to follow and understand really well, as mass adoption is on the way.
I didn’t necessarily think that would be through journalism. I studied economics in college and Science, Technology and Society, which is an interdisciplinary major. Anthropology and sociology of science and technology.
It was very interdisciplinary, with a lot of writing and a lot of understanding of technology. Crypto has a good intersection between those two. That was my side interest. And then I wanted to intern at CoinDesk for the summer to just get a sense of what the space was like, what it’s like working in crypto and understand everything that’s going on. And I loved it. I was asked to stay longer throughout the school year, and I was doing social media first. I got to experience that a little bit more and started writing. So I joined the news team.
And now not only do I love how fast-paced it is, and how there’s so much drama happening all the time but being able to write is I’ve always loved writing.
And I think that it’s a skill that I’m really excited to be able to build through this job. And being in the crypto space, it’s kind of the best of both worlds.
2. Is there anything that you’re most passionate about when it comes to your work?
NFTs and Web3 are mainly my beat so I’m really excited about the way that NFTs are onboarding Web2 native people to Web3.
And there are a lot of companies that are stepping into Web3 through NFTs. A lot of different projects, whether it’s artists, fashion designers or people, are doing concert ticket NFTs.
There are so many different avenues to onboard people from Web2 to Web3 through NFTs. So I really see that as valuable. And that’s my favourite thing to cover.
3. In terms of your writing process, do you have a recipe that you follow, or does it differ from day to day?
It really depends on the story I’m writing. So if it’s a quick news story, that I have to get out the door, then I look at the information in front of me, get the basic facts, reach out to the people who are involved, and then immediately start writing and just get a basic news story done in 15 to 20 minutes. Something very quick has to be moving fast in that process. It’s super important.
And there’s no time to really think about how to write it, I’m learning how to be able to put my own voice into those 15-minute stories, but It can be hard, you don’t have as much time to write something super quick and punchy. So that’s a skill I am going to improve on. And I’m working on actively trying to get better at it.
But if I’m doing a long-form piece, I will outline what exactly I want it to look like. And those are pieces that I do for Web3. Usually, they’re trend pieces I have about one of those a week, maybe a little less.
But I’ll gather all my sources, schedule a tonne of calls, and then just have all these interviews and write it out over time, sort of like writing an essay.
When I was in college, and high school I hated procrastinating so much. So with news, it’s kind of like you already procrastinated, so you have to get it out. There’s no room to procrastinate.
But with these longer form pieces unfortunately there kind of is room to do that when something doesn’t have a hard deadline necessarily. So I set aside time and really organize.
3. With the market downturn, what has been your biggest learning curve? What advice would you give other journalists wanting to bridge into Web3 journalism?
I would say that it’s so important to be able to understand everything you’re writing about. Because there are so many terms that are very difficult.
For example, this is a funny word, but sharding is very common, and you have to understand this is a term that describes a sharded proof of a sharded chain, that’s typically proof of work, where it’s split into different multi-chains to increase security.
That’s a word that if you saw it in a press release, or you don’t necessarily know what it is, you would just move past it. I would go on out on a limb to say 90% of people in the world probably don’t know it, not even in the crypto space.
So you want to make sure language is understandable, digestible, something that people can actually get, and if you understand it best, then you’ll be able to easily describe that to people.
That’s an important part of the learning curve, and that comes with time, you’ll start to cover more things, and you’ll start to see more terms. This is stuff you have to pick up through reading more, reading more press releases too, talking to more people and so on.
4. Hypothetically speaking, if you weren’t allowed to be a journalist, what would you be?
I think it’d be really cool to curate NFT collections like an NFT gallery curator doing something potentially in the art world, or doing lNFT fashion design.
If it wasn’t related at all to anything I’m doing right now, I would probably want to just work on a big ranch and operate a ranch. It could be an event space where people have weddings, people can ride horses, and people could stay in the hotel part of it. That’s the dream, in 30 or 40 years.
5. what has been the most challenging part of the job this year during the bear markets? And has there been anything really difficult? Or is anything super rewarding?
I think that it’s been difficult to keep up with some projects that just aren’t really operating anymore.
For example, I had a period during April, where I was covering a lot of projects building on this newer, exciting chain, Terra. Obviously, that’s not the case anymore. So it’s unfortunate to see something you care about just stop operating.
Analysing patterns of what people are doing has been interesting. I did a cool story a couple of weeks ago with Alchemy, where they made a report on how people are building and that they’re deploying a lot more contracts. And those numbers are up for all the different devs. So that was cool, being able to display that data.
6. Have you noticed any unlikely trends emerging?
So something trend-wise that is fascinating to me is all of these NFT platforms dropping royalties all of a sudden, or, you know, scaling back or making them optional. And I think that the trend does certainly arise from the bear market.
These platforms are so desperate to keep buyers buying without fear of paying more royalties, but in the same way, it really is impacting the creators. So I think it’s doing more detriment than good.
I don’t think it’s doing any good at all, to be honest, but it’s definitely a trend and I’m curious about where it’s going to go.
It’s completely against Web3 ethos and NFTs. All these platforms were created to help individuals and now they’re just helping themselves. This is going right back to the Web2 world.
7. When it comes to PR reach out, what would you say is the most important feature of a good pitch? And what would a red flag be for you?
So good features and pitches should include multiple comments from different people involved in the projects.
For example, let’s say an NFT marketplace is launching on a new blockchain, then I would want comments from the platform and from the blockchain.
If there’s a funding round, it’s helpful to have not just comments from the people who are in the platform that is getting funding, but the actual investors, too. And sometimes users even if that’s possible.
As for red flags, I know it’s like not always up to the PR firm, but sometimes a quick turnaround can be tough.
In some press releases I’ve gotten where the order of investors is spelt out at the top. But then I write the story and I put in the investor names and the PR firm then gets frustrated about the order of them. But that was the order in the press release.
I don’t really have a lot of issues with press releases themselves, they are a really helpful jumping-off point.
8. What is a piece of pitching advice that you think everyone PR should know?
I would say like some crypto journalists are very knowledgeable about the tech that goes into these different projects and protocols. Some less so, and some have an extensive journalism background, but might not know the tech super well or can easily boil it down.
So I would say always err on the side of being more general and accessible with the pitches because sometimes people might not easily understand how exactly it works. And that can sometimes be an issue.
9. What do you think is in store for 2023? Are you optimistic about the new year for the crypto landscape?
I have a feeling we’ll still see the impacts of the bear market for a good while. But I’m hopeful that after we start to see some of the Merge benefits, in terms of the price of Ethereum, maybe we’ll start to see more projects emerge out of this high-end developer period.
So I’m hoping that some of that will contribute to better market conditions. I know the bear market is going to last quite a bit longer, but I’m not sure how long, so it might be all of next year.
You can read Cameron’s coverage on CoinDesk here
Follow Cameron on Twitter here