“The innovation is really just starting to begin,” – On the Record with Casey Wagner, Blockworks

Casey Wagner hadn’t been in the crypto game long before she realized she was already in very deep. Fresh out of completing her journalism degree from the University of Virginia last year, Casey already worked for some of the most prestigious financial media publications in the world, including as a reporter for Bloomberg. Then 10 months ago, Blockworks reached out to her, enticing her to come on board as a reporter covering breaking news within the crypto space to help institutional investors understand and make better financial decisions around digital assets.

Now Casey is based in New York, spending her days talking to some of the most innovative leaders in crypto, and she’s pretty excited that despite crypto being more than a decade old, the movement feels like it’s just beginning. We got the chance to chat to Casey about her favourite stories she’s worked on, the crazy energy of the conference circuit and why it’s important to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto journalism. 

Sam: Thanks for the chat Casey! Can you tell us about your journey from getting your journalism degree to Bloomberg and now Blockworks? How did you get into crypto?

 Casey: Yes, definitely! I graduated college in 2020 and started at Bloomberg as a cross-asset intern so my team covered all asset classes. I had studied journalism, so finance was all so new to me, but Bloomberg is a really great place to learn and they give you a tonne of opportunities to cover a range of stories and topics. I learnt a lot in a short period of time. And one of the things they let me get exposure to and write about was Bitcoin and that was really fun.

 I had a very limited understanding of Bitcoin then, and this was September 2020, so Bitcoin was around $16,000 and was starting to inch back up after the big crash. I’d heard about it, mostly that people had made a lot of money from it and that was pretty much it – it was really in line with institutional interest picking up and the price was rising and VC funds were giving out a lot of money. It seemed like a really big moment for the asset class.

 When my internship ended, I realized that it was something that I really wanted to pursue. It was an area that wasn’t necessarily lacking in traditional financial journalism, but it was definitely still an emerging area of growth. So when Blockworks reached out to me about the new site that was focusing on digital assets, it seemed like a perfect fit.

Sam: Coming from journalism, did you know you were going to jump into finance?

 Casey: No, I always wanted to be a writer and some of my mentors had done the Bloomberg internship and spoke really highly of the program so I applied thinking financial journalism would be an interesting field to cover. I really like how the stories we were writing really impacted the choices that people made and the draw about journalism was being able to write about so many different things. Finance is a really broad field, so from prices to markets to VC funding rounds, there’s always something new and exciting going on.

Sam: What are your favourite types of stories to tell?

 Casey: Not studying finance at school it was difficult to figure out which numbers matter and what they mean. But the whole point of writing, especially finance, is to be able to explain patterns and trends to people that may not have understood them before. 

With crypto especially it can be really dense and a lot of tech can just be so into the weeds. Being able to get to the root of why something matters is something I care a lot about and something I think is really important in crypto and financial journalism.

Like the ETF launch, it’s been really crazy watching the trade share volume and see those assets under management. It’s been fun putting those stories together and delving into what it means for the industry. Those types of stories are definitely my favourite.  

Sam: What’s been your favourite story you’ve been able to dive into?

Casey: Because the crypto industry is so new, being able to understand why something is important, or what the impact is, is really interesting. I did this update on El Salvador a couple of weeks ago talking about whether other countries in Latin America would follow and accept Bitcoin as legal tender. I think they’re the most important stories for investors and people looking to learn more about the industry because it shows the real implications, and the nut-graph of why it matters.

Crypto is so broad and can be so daunting – I was overwhelmed when I first started learning about it, so I think getting into why it matters is super important when we’re trying to appeal to more traditional financial people.

Sometimes I think it’s easy to feel like you’re late into the space but it’s also important to take a step back and realize that we are so early and the regulation is only just starting to come in and the innovation is really just starting to begin.

Sam: Do you think you’ll continue diving into crypto and make it a niche you embrace long-term?

Casey: I definitely see myself writing about finance for a long time. I think crypto will never not be a part of finance. We’re at a point where when you talk about financial media it will always be about crypto. This is not an asset that’s going away anytime soon.

Sam: What recent topic are you most excited to dive into even further?

Casey: The ETF coverage has honestly been so fun. I’ve had a lot of fun this week being able to talk about different sources and speculate about when ETFs are going live. I think what was really fun about it was that the traditional financial and media world were also so invested in it. It wasn’t just crypto people reading about it and being excited. It was everyone. And that was really exciting, everyone was talking about it and the stories on our site did really well.

On the horizon it’s the stories that really bridge the gap between traditional finance and crypto that are the most interesting to write. I think our audience responds to them really well too, so it’s kind of the best of both worlds.

Sam: What’s your favourite thing about the blockchain & crypto space?

Casey: Definitely the people. Even in the short 10 months I’ve been at Blockworks I’ve met so many incredible founders and people working in the space. I was at the Miami conference in June and it was my first real crypto conference and it was a little overwhelming but a lot of fun. The energy around the space is so exciting. 

Sam: What’s the worst pitch you’ve received from a PR professional?

Casey: I would say anyone who sends a pitch and clearly hasn’t read what we write. I got one today about truck racing which has nothing to do with crypto or finance. So, anyone who pitches me without taking a few minutes to realize what Blockworks is all about.

Sam: And what does a day in the life of Casey look like?

Casey: Every morning we have our pitch meeting and go over what everyone’s working on and what news we’re seeing. Then we’re writing. I have a lot of calls each week, depending on the day. I might work on a story for a few days or sometimes it’s breaking news that comes up. There’s a lot of talking to sources, and I usually come into the office roughly half of the week. It’s a lot of fun in New York to meet sources in real life too, and going to events and conferences. Companies will also host parties – so getting connected to the crypto community is really fun.

You can read Casey’s coverage on Blockworks here and Bloomberg here.

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