“You have to be critical. You have to be able to have more than one take on things.” – On the Record with Adam Morgan McCarthy, The Block

Adam Morgan reports on markets and breaking news at The Block. He splits his time between London and Dublin, although he has spent much of the last year living in London, initially freelancing and working for a Web 3 start-up there before beginning a fellowship at Markets Insider. Learn more about his take on crypto and journalism below.

How did you get into crypto and crypto journalism?

I got into journalism by accident. At university, I was in the finance society as I had ambitions to work in investment banking or become a trader. I ended up managing the magazine for the society. They had a biannual magazine with interviews, sort of opinion pieces from different people in the society. I quite liked doing it. And that’s how I first got into writing, by being an editor of that magazine and then running a few pieces after that. I left it for a few years. During the pandemic, I started getting more into crypto again, having been interested in it in 2017-2018.  I started writing about crypto, working freelance for a startup in London and doing their community management and writing their newsletter. From writing and covering the news, it seemed like a natural progression to get into journalism and crypto journalism is quite exciting.

It was a happy accident.

What gets you most excited about the work that you do? 

It’s different every day, which is fun. Everyone can see a large part of my output, and I can share it with people. I’ve done internships and jobs where you do a lot of work that goes unnoticed. So it’s nice to do something where you might get a message from someone you haven’t chatted with for a few months, and they say, “I saw this on LinkedIn” or “I saw this on Twitter”. That’s quite a nice element of it. I think it’s great that you can really see the fruits of your labour. I’ve worked in tech where you can work on a minimal viable product for four months and then it’s decided that we’re gonna have to pivot because it doesn’t work. With journalism, you can have a few quick wins everyday.

What’s the single most important feature of a good pitch? 

It’s good to have something new, something that hasn’t been done before, or covered before.  And share information, bring something to life that people need to know and haven’t heard about. I also look to see if the project is fixing a pain point in the industry. 

Also having interesting founders who have done interesting things in the past. It’s an easy, green flag to see what these founders have done. That’s not to say that every project that has founders affiliated with successful projects in the past will be good. But it makes the job easier because you’re going to be sifting through thousands of pitches a week and it’s tough to discern what’s important just from a subject line or the first few paragraphs of the pitch. So when you can find something like that, it’s a lot easier to go from there. There can be many different projects and it’s hard to discern who’s going to end up coming out on top. So you’re looking for anything that you can verify them with. 

You might also meet someone who is working on a project and it’s their passion and enthusiasm, and they’ve got the statistics to back that up, like high monthly active users. 

It’s also a feeling. That’s the good thing about moving from freelance work into a publication. I’ve got great editors who can help me discern with their years of experience. They know what’s a good pitch and it’s great to learn from them. 

What’s a feature in a pitch that is an immediate red flag?

I get many pitches that aren’t relevant and after a while, that gets filtered out of my email. So make sure you’re pitching the right people. 

It’s great if you’re able to get what you need from the first few sentences, then you’d be encouraged to read on. If you think the first two or three sentences are good, you’re going to read the first two or three paragraphs and find out more. And then you’re going to look up this company or project and look into it more yourself. The pitch needs something that piques your interest or makes you hungry for more, without giving too little or way too much. If the key point is not immediately jumping out, it can be difficult.

A small but crucial element which always gets missed is ensuring that you state what the company you’re pitching actually does.

What’s your favourite source to find out about the newest developments in the space?

I’m on Twitter all day, and our Slack is really active – we’re all always sharing stories. There are some really good news aggregators out there. It’s also quite handy to have Telegram open. I really like following db on Twitter, it’s got the fastest news and I follow the Telegram channel too. I’m also in markets that is influenced by governments and regulators. It’s quite handy to be forward-thinking. So with things like CPI and GDP reports and interest rate hikes in the US, you can get ahead and get commentary from people before it goes live. There’s also onecryptofeed.com which aggregates all the news from different sites and shares it in Telegram immediately. There’s also cryptopanic.com. These ensure you’re not missing things.

What trends or developments in this space are you most excited about?

I’m quite interested in lending rates. They went down in May and are ticking back up now and after everything that has happened with lending platforms, it would be interesting to see what happens. I’m also interested in staking with Ethereum and the Merge coming up, and what happens when staking gets bigger. 

Obviously Bitcoin was born out of the 2008 financial crisis, but for many of us in crypto, or at least for myself, I’ve never worked through a recession as an adult. Most cryptocurrencies that people invest in will go through the first ever recession if we do go into one. Technically, the US is in a recession. So the next 12 to 18 months or more might be quite interesting to see, in terms of how the space works with a credit crunch and a bit more pressure. It’s going to be interesting and it might test people’s commitment to the space. It was a little different in 2017-2018 when things crashed. There were still many people announcing funds, there was a lot of liquidity in the space, and money ready to be deployed. From talking to people, and having conversations at EthCC Paris, people seem slightly more confident that it isn’t going to be such a long cycle this time. But I don’t know. I’m just here to cover it. So we will see how it plays out.

To budding crypto journalists out there, what would you say is a golden rule that you follow? 

When I first started, I liked crypto. But you can’t always be positive about something because you have a personal interest in it. You have to be critical. You have to be able to have more than one take on things. You need to come at things from different angles and understand why other people might not interpret things the way you do personally and you have to be open to covering it independently based on relevant facts. You have to be really objective for the betterment of the whole ecosystem, if you are going to be a cop on the beat.

Read more of Adam’s work for The Block here.

Follow Adam on Twitter here.

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