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.
Nicole has been working as an editor and journalist for over 25 years, writing from Sydney, Melbourne, Taipei, London, and Dublin.
She now writes from the beautiful Gold Coast in Australia, and is an editor for the column at Be[in]Crypto focused on educating the crypto curious and newcomers to the space.
A firm believer in privacy, individual rights, freedom, and the potential of cryptocurrencies to solve real world problems and issues – She modestly classifies herself as an accidental HoDLer, while having a lot more foresight than even some of the best digital asset investors with Alpha to buy Bitcoin in 2013.
Learn more about her experiences through her exciting journey below:
What does Crypto, Blockchain and DeFi mean to you? Where do you see it going in the future?
The internet has been an amazing tool for connection. When I was backpacking across the world when I was really young, I didn’t even have an email address. I was literally in a Vietnamese jungle, and no one knew where I was for months! Seems crazy now! And kind of unsafe. Who let me do that? To book a bed in a backpacker’s hostel, you literally had to roll up and hope for the best.
Recently, I did a two-month trip across Asia with my kids. I had everything booked and paid for before leaving, including flights and trains and buses between all destinations, plus all accommodation. It is a totally different world now because of the internet. A better, safer world.
However, this convenience has come at a cost. We are now all a product, our internet trail allows us to be spammed at every move. Every interaction and purchase leaves our inboxes sprayed with promotional junk mail. It’s annoying and overwhelming. Our privacy has never been more compromised. And nor has our right to say what we want.
I myself have been banned from Facebook so many times for the most innocuous things, all taken the wrong way by bots. I have friends who have had their Instagram accounts disabled for reasons unknown to them, after they spend thousands of dollars building their businesses up, with no way to get their accounts back.
How did we get into this situation? How did Mark Zuckerberg get to decide what we can say? Imagine having a phone conversation with a friend, and the phone company takes exception to what you are saying. They cut off your call and take away your phone. Seems absurd, but that is exactly what these giant platforms do. How did they get so much power to decide what we can say? Why aren’t we more outraged by this?
And how did Jeff Bezos get to decide who could be on the internet or not? When conservative social media website Parler got up and running online, Bezos managed to get rid of them by not allowing them access to Amazon’s storage services. It made everyone realise that Amazon owns ALL OF THE STORAGE. How did that happen?
Whatever you feel about conservative politics, I think we can all agree that corporations we didn’t vote for should not get to decide what the “correct” politics are. And, it makes you wonder how our mate Jeff ended up with so much power.
The great hope is that with the arrival of Blockchain and Web3, big tech can literally be avoided. And more importantly, they don’t get to decide what we see and what we don’t see.
Also, with crypto, we can see that its power transcends borders and governments. There are many examples in Ukraine of everyday people all over the world transferring crypto across borders to causes they feel strongly about. This is outside of banks, borders, governments and our mates Mark and Jeff.
Unbanked poor people have much lower barriers to entry to financial systems with crypto. All they need is a phone and they can receive it. They can pay each other, accept loans and donations, and get money from relatives abroad, all without banks and other money transfer services clipping the ticket on the way through and taking money from the poorest people.
The promise from Web3 is greater freedom from being just a piece of meat to spammers, and greater autonomy from corrupt systems that only benefit those vested in them. And that freedom of speech is just so close.
Can you tell us about your journalism journey and how you ended up writing about crypto? How did you first buy Bitcoin and become an accidental HoDler?
I did a journalism degree and pretty much did free work experience for anyone who would have me until someone felt guilty enough to give me a job! From there it was what I have always done.
I first got interested in crypto in about 2012. As a business journalist in Dublin, I was getting a lot of press releases from London-based companies about crypto company start-ups. But here’s the interesting thing. The companies were not talking about crypto. They were talking about spin-off products, like wallets and BTMs and other services. The fact that so many companies were set up in Canary Wharf offering secondary market products for crypto had me fascinated. I realized that this crypto thing was so much further along the timeline than most people thought. So I bought Bitcoin for a ridiculously low price and Hodled for life. A little while later I bought ETH and XRP. The early coins were the most interesting!
I like cryptocurrency with a purpose, I don’t like just to trade… all that is doing is trying to profit off other traders’ bad judgment and it doesn’t do anything to help make life better for people.
In later years, I bought Monero as I love its privacy features. This could be a double-edged sword, but with an uncertain future, you don’t know when you might need it. I also love XVG Verge, the coin of choice for PornHub. I like this coin because I think that consenting adults should be allowed to entertain each other without having that controlled by outside entities. And I just feel like it is a little edgy and it’s good for dinner party conversation mileage!
What does your day-to-day role look like? Are there things that you prioritize and enjoy the most?
There is a lot of drama at the moment. Do Kwon of the Terra ecosystem has provided us with a lot to write about, for example. Slow news weeks are never great, but it is usually a sign of good times.
What is your favourite out of the stories you’ve written so far? What makes a good story?
I personally like the culture side of crypto – what we can do with it, and how we can rebel against governments and corporations with it. I also love the idea of the final metaverse. One of my fave stories was about the Metaverse gate and the promise that holds for entertainment.
Do you have any journalists, industry experts and thought leaders that you look up to in the space?
It is such a new industry that there aren’t those figures established yet. But give me time, I love a fight to the top!
Worst or best pitch you’ve ever received? What are a few things you wish PRs or companies would know when pitching you a story?
I wish PRs knew what we have to do to meet SEO requirements. Writing for print and writing for SEO are two really different beasts. If we get original pics that no other outlet has, and original ideas and text that no one else has, then we are more likely to do a collab with a PR company. If every outlet has the same pics and the same copy, it just doesn’t rate well for SEO. And it doesn’t give us any edge.
My opinion is that news can come from anywhere. It doesn’t matter to me if it comes from the companies themselves, via PRs, via a newswire. News is news. But to be first and original is my personal goal.
Do you think it’s ethically acceptable for journalists to be able to invest in crypto, why or why not?
That’s like saying, should business journalists have money? Everyone will eventually have crypto. Stop resisting, rest of the world!
How are current market conditions affecting the newsroom? Do you see a shift in perspectives, and what are the sort of stories you think need to be shared more?
It’s a bad time for investors, but a good time for journalists, especially at BeInCrypto, where we can be truthful. We don’t have to push the idea that crypto is amazing, all of the time. If a shonky company is doing shonky things, we can write about it and say we think it is a shonk-fest. But that also gives us the freedom to say that we think something is really cool, if it is.
Any tips for people looking to get into Crypto journalism?
Now is the time because no one has extensive experience, we are all newbies.
You can read Nicole’s coverage on Be[in]Crypto here