When Vox was still a young site, they published a piece on technology adoption rates that was just fundamentally misguided. The methodology simply didn’t work, as Paleofuture’s great writer Matt Novak detailed. Mistakes happen, particularly for young publications, but Vox compounded the issue by being cagey and evasive in addressing the problems. I criticized them for that at the time.
Today, Vox’s tech-libertarian type Tim Lee ran a curious post in which he both announced that he was investing in Bitcoin and made the case that others should buy Bitcoin as well. He made an interesting case about the future of Bitcoin, but the ethical problem is direct and obvious: whatever else Bitcoin is, it’s a commodity that is traded speculatively, and part of what drives the price of a speculative asset is people in the media telling you to buy it. If a financial columnist at the Wall Street Journal can buy shares of a stock, urge readers to buy that stock, and then sell when the price goes up from more people buying– well, you get the picture. For this reason, Lee’s old employer the Washington Post sensibly prohibited him from investing in Bitcoin. But despite acknowledging that rule in the piece, Lee and Vox’s editorial team seemed to have no issue with that conflict of interest.
They got some criticism, and apparently thought better of it. Ezra Klein’s explanation is clear and direct and apologetic. That’s how you do it: you just express the thought process that you used to arrive at the prior bad decision, explain why it was wrong, and apologize. So much better for all involved. So good for them.