CoinDesk Ethics Policy
CoinDesk is the leading news publication covering the digital transformation of money in the 21st century. Our mission is to inform, educate and connect the global community of investors, innovators and users of cryptocurrencies, blockchains and other decentralized technologies. That includes everyone from sophisticated professionals to curious newcomers. Founded in 2013, we serve an audience of 3 million monthly website visitors, 6,000+ annual conference attendees, 200,000 newsletter subscribers and thousands of readers of our research reports.
Editorial independence: CoinDesk is a wholly owned subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, one of the largest private investors in the industry and a provider of trading and other investment services for that industry. We operate independently of the parent company.
DCG has no involvement in editorial or content decisions, and our journalists cover DCG and its portfolio companies and investments as they would any other subjects, without fear or favor.
CoinDesk and DCG have agreed to abide by a strict independence policy that forbids DCG employees from pressuring CoinDesk journalists for coverage or favorable treatment, and encourages CoinDesk employees to come forward and report any such attempts. The full text of the policy can be found in Appendix A below.
As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Our office is in the same New York City building as another DCG subsidiary, Genesis Trading, but on a separate floor, three stories apart, with different access cards. DCG used to have its headquarters in the building but has relocated to Connecticut.
Disclosure: In the interest of transparency, all CoinDesk articles include at the bottom a disclosure of our corporate ownership, with links to the full lists of DCG’s portfolio companies and cryptocurrency investments. (Those lists appear below in Appendix B.) This blanket disclosure also notes that certain CoinDesk employees (including editorial employees) may receive DCG SARs as part of their compensation.
Further, any article about our parent company or its other wholly owned subsidiaries (Grayscale, Genesis, Foundry, Luno) includes a prominent disclosure in the body text that CoinDesk is owned by DCG.
Journalistic standards: We strive for the utmost accuracy, fairness, objectivity and responsible reporting, whether surfacing original news or in reviewing and corroborating information from other sources.
Our journalists know their reporting can affect individual and company reputations, and that they must always be patient and persistent in seeking comment from the subjects of their stories. There are usually at least two sides to any story, and CoinDesk will always be diligent in seeking a diverse range of intelligent, sober perspectives.
All factual errors in published articles will be corrected promptly upon discovery, and all corrections and amendments to an article will be disclosed in a note at the bottom. In rare cases where the central idea of an article warrants a correction, the disclosure will be placed at the top and shared on social media, so the correction is broadcast as widely as the original error.
CoinDesk reporters must disclose in their profile pages any cryptocurrency investments of $1,000 or more; update these disclosures upon any material changes; and, in their articles, mention any potential conflicts of interest. They should avoid such conflicts by minimizing their own coverage of assets or companies in which they have a financial interest, or of issues they are involved in as activists. Above all, they may never misuse our platform for personal gain. (See “Personal Investing,” below.)
Editors and reporters may never accept payment from any company or individual for coverage or preferential treatment. Journalists are not allowed to accept gifts from companies or individuals CoinDesk covers or is likely to cover. (Exceptions may be made for items of nominal value, such as a T-shirt, hat or coffee mug, or food or beverages that can be consumed within 24 hours.)
Opinion articles, whether written by outside contributors or staff members, are always clearly labeled as such, with a design that is distinct from news stories.
As with all reliable media outlets, we do not reveal the identities of sources who speak to us on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from the powerful. However, we are also careful about relying on anonymous sources. All stories that originate with an anonymous source require corroboration from at least one other source with firsthand knowledge of the information, and often more, depending on the sensitivity of the story.
Further, we will respect the pseudonymity of credible sources who have established reputations in the crypto community under their online handles. We believe prolific software developers and other influential figures who do not give their legal names have reputational skin in the game when they attach their words to their well-known pseudonyms. In many cases, that attachment is sufficient to expect a sufficient degree of accountability. As such, we will not reveal anyone’s identity without his or her consent, absent an overwhelming public interest in doing so. We reject a model of journalism that needlessly ruins the lives or careers of harmless, obscure individuals for clicks or moral points.
Personal investing: CoinDesk always seeks to prioritize its highest-value asset – the trust of its readers. It is the job of our journalists, researchers and market analysts to be both transparent and accountable to the public, and seek to uphold high standards of conduct.
However, CoinDesk respects that employees may wish to make decisions related to their wealth management. With this in mind, CoinDesk has worked with compliance and legal advisers to develop a strict set of guidelines that balance the company’s vision while respecting our employees’ financial autonomy.
Above all, these guidelines seek to ensure:
Information obtained by employees of CoinDesk during the course of their duties is not misused for financial gain;
Employees at CoinDesk are able to research the market through actions that may include the purchase, sale or use of cryptocurrencies or crypto assets;
CoinDesk employees retain the financial autonomy to make decisions on their personal wealth, provided such decisions are disclosed.
Our policies are designed to promote stringent definitions for transparency so as to ensure the trust of our audience is upheld.
Any employee who buys, sells or trades crypto assets in amounts of less than $1,000 must notify CoinDesk’s compliance officer within 24 hours of the event. Any employee who buys, sells or trades amounts more than US$1,000 must notify the compliance officer at least 24 hours before doing so.
Upon receipt, these notifications will be reviewed by the compliance officer to ensure the trade meets our policies and guidance. Items up to and including the employee’s recent meetings, articles or corporate outreach efforts will be evaluated. Employees must hold all crypto asset purchases for a minimum of 30 days.
Further, trading is forbidden during office hours. Employees are not permitted to short crypto assets or trade futures contracts. As noted, journalists must disclose crypto positions worth $1,000 or more in their profile pages and update them immediately to reflect any changes.
Company stocks: Our policy on owning stocks is more restrictive than for cryptocurrency, for several reasons.
First, using cryptocurrency and related services is often an important part of researching and understanding the field, while setting up and using a brokerage account is not traditionally involved when reporting on publicly traded companies.
Second, companies have management teams, run from the top down, who have direct control over the direction of the project and can try to influence reporters for favorable coverage. While crypto projects have developer teams and other interested parties, there is no one nominally “in charge” with outsize sway over how the project operates. The absence of direct control means there is not the same degree of conflict as with stocks – not enough to outweigh the educational value of reporters using crypto, and little enough to be mitigated by our disclosure rules outlined above.
Third, a reporter breaking a story, positive or negative, about a publicly traded company sometimes has access to material nonpublic information that, once published could move the stock price; reporters covering a cryptocurrency are usually working with information in the public domain (on the blockchain, in code repositories or in developer forums). While there are exceptions where non-public information derived from a company involved in the crypto space could move the price of a token, any potential conflict associated with such instances would be mitigated by the disclosure requirements.
All CoinDesk editors and reporters are barred from owning shares in pure-play crypto firms (e.g. Coinbase). Further, beat reporters and their editors who regularly cover diversified companies involved in crypto (e.g. Square, Tesla, MicroStrategy) are not allowed to own shares in those firms. And any stocks purchased by a CoinDesk employee must be held for a minimum 30 days.
CoinDesk employees who are found to be not in compliance with these rules may be subject to penalties up to and including termination.
Social media: CoinDesk’s mission is to drive the conversation around the future of money, and social media is one of the best tools to do that. Our official brand accounts are the authoritative editorial voice of CoinDesk. We use social media to share our content and to make announcements about events and new products.
Journalists are encouraged to interact with users of our content through their personal handles. In doing so, they are representing CoinDesk’s brand and values. While they may use their own distinctive voice or express personal opinions, they are expected to conduct themselves professionally. They may not make personal attacks or spread unverified information that could damage an individual’s or company’s reputation.
Advertising: One of the ways CoinDesk generates revenue is through online advertising. Aside from maintaining basic standards of quality and content, CoinDesk will refuse any ads that directly promote a token (ads from companies with tokens but are promoting some other aspect of their business may be permitted).
If an entity has announced any fundraising event (such as an ICO or IPO), CoinDesk will refuse any ads from that entity that are not explicitly permitted under Securities and Exchange Commission advertising rules.
Events and partnerships: From time to time, CoinDesk may publish sponsored content on our platforms. This content will be explicitly labeled as sponsored, will never be written by CoinDesk journalists or editorial staffers, and will be clearly delineated from our news, analysis, research and opinion articles. Sponsored content relationships will have no impact on the journalism independently produced by CoinDesk’s editorial team.
Likewise, CoinDesk events may include sponsored sessions. These sessions will be clearly billed as sponsored and wholly separate from the vast majority of sessions that are curated by the content team, Sponsor relationships will have no impact on speaking invitations or event programming.
Giveaways/contests: CoinDesk journalists may not accept tokens, coins or any other products or merchandise from giveaways, contests, airdrops or other events that may affect their ability to impartially cover digital assets or the companies behind them.
Appendix A: Policy on content independence
Context for CoinDesk Satoshi Nakamoto’s invention inspired a movement towards the transformation of money. Bitcoin’s open-source economic model helped it thrive as developers, cryptographers, engineers, entrepreneurs or anyone else could contribute to its growth. Later, a similar design was applied to other protocols, some of which managed to “pay for their own” development as open-source technologies.
This decentralized economic model has a familiar challenge: The competition to develop these open-source technologies involves asymmetries between various stakeholders, some private, some public, some for-profit, some non-profit.
Goal for CoinDesk
As a media platform, CoinDesk’s opportunity and responsibility is to provide a forum for stakeholders of all kinds, everywhere in the world, to contribute to the conversation around the transformation of money, regardless of any asymmetry among stakeholders, dependent only on the quality of their work or ideas.
If the asymmetries mentioned above go unchecked, they could lead private, narrow interests to control open-source projects, in effect replicating the centralized system of money these projects seek to transform (or transcend).
CoinDesk is a wholly owned subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, one of the largest private investors in the industry driving this process of monetary transformation and a provider of trading and other investment services for that industry. As such, both parties have a responsibility to avoid any undue influence or perception of influence over CoinDesk’s content creation operations. For CoinDesk to continue to offer a trusted forum for multi-stakeholder industry development, both parties – CoinDesk and DCG – commit to uphold the following principles with regards to their mutual relationship.
All CoinDesk content creators will conduct their work independent of any direction from DCG.
CoinDesk content creators, whether journalists, multimedia producers, researchers or event programmers, are enabled and empowered to pursue their work objectives free from fear of any form of interference or retaliation from officers of DCG. This includes, but is not limited to, promotions, termination or compensation increases. All of these metrics and privileges are under the authority of the CEO of CoinDesk.
CoinDesk journalists are enabled and empowered to pursue their news gathering objectives free from fear of any form of interference by officers of the commercial operations of either DCG or CoinDesk. Beyond news gathering, CoinDesk journalists are also empowered and encouraged to speak publicly about technology without any form of interference from DCG, subject only to editorial managers for social media and public statement guidelines.
DCG and its portfolio companies enjoy no special privilege over and above that afforded to all other entities with regards to coverage in CoinDesk articles, multimedia content, social media outlets, social media outlets and events.
Processes for CoinDesk
Based on those principles, both parties will commit to several rules of engagement in the conduct of CoinDesk’s operations:
Employees of DCG and its non-CoinDesk subsidiaries have no authority over CoinDesk content creators. If any such employee demands that a CoinDesk content creator perform tasks or conduct his or her job in accordance with the employee’s wishes, a complaint shall be elevated to the DCG chief operating officer, who will reprimand the employee. The incident shall be noted in the CoinDesk content creator’s performance record as recognition of his or her adherence to the company’s ethical standards.
Members of CoinDesk sales or other business units (minus CoinDesk Human Resources) have no authority over CoinDesk content creators. If any such employee makes demands of a CoinDesk content creator establishing a quid pro quo relationship in the service of business objectives, a complaint shall be elevated to the CoinDesk CEO, who will reprimand the employee. The incident shall be noted in the content creator’s performance record as recognition of his or her adherence to the company’s ethical standards.
If any employee of DCG, its subsidiaries, CoinDesk sales or other business units tell CoinDesk content creators how to cover a story, conduct research, produce a multimedia product or program an event, a complaint shall be elevated to the DCG chief operating officer, who will reprimand the employee. The incident shall be noted in the CoinDesk content creator’s performance record as recognition of his or her adherence to the company’s ethical standards.
If a representative of a DCG portfolio company uses his or her DCG relationship to attempt to influence a CoinDesk content creator’s coverage, the CoinDesk employee shall immediately notify their manager, who will alert DCG management. The incident shall be noted in the CoinDesk content creator’s performance record as recognition of his or her adherence to the company’s ethical standards.
CoinDesk will provide agnostic and thorough coverage of DCG subsidiaries, just as with other companies in the industry, with disclosures added where appropriate on the relationship between CoinDesk and DCG.
CoinDesk staff are under no obligation to attend DCG-organized events.
DCG employees and management should schedule appointments to visit CoinDesk offices and cannot enter without an invitation.
DCG employees and management are held to the same rules as every other potential source in terms of speaking at offsite events, etc (see: Interacting with CoinDesk Journalists doc).
Appendix B: Digital Currency Group’s investments
Last updated: February 2022
Wholly owned subsidiaries: CoinDesk, Genesis, Grayscale, Foundry, Luno
Digital assets: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Decentraland (MANA and LAND), Ethereum Classic (ETC), Filecoin, Horizen (ZEN), Livepeer (LPT), ZCash (ZEC)
AZA (formerly known as BitPesa)
Big Time Studios
Cambridge Blockchain (Acquired)
Crypto Facilities (Acquired)
Custos Media Technologies
Digital Assets Data (Acquired)
Fleek (FKA Terminal)
Horizon Blockchain Games
itBit / Paxos
Mediachain Labs (Acquired)
Merkle Data (Acquired)
Transparent Financial Systems