The 60-second interview: Adrian Chen, freelance reporter and New Inquiry editor
CAPITAL: In November, after spending four years there and breaking some big stories, you left Gawker to be a freelancer. Do you miss it? And, do you expect Max Read to pick up where John Cook left off as editor-in-chief?
CHEN: I loved my time at Gawker, but I do not miss it. They only had catered lunch once a week, and I was forced to churn out as many as one post per day. This is no kind of life. But I have full confidence that Max Read is leading Gawker into a new golden era. He gets the internet better than anyone. So far, Max Read's Gawker has been a glorious bastard child of Infowars.com and a Game of Thrones reaction .gif Tumblr and I'm sure it's only going to get better.
CAPITAL: A lot has been written about the pros and cons of freelancing. Have you enjoyed it? And, what have you been doing in your role as an editor for The New Inquiry?
CHEN: I'm really enjoying freelancing. I've been able to branch out from reporting on internet culture and technology and get out into the real world. Did you know there are some things happening that have nothing to do with Reddit? One downside: Adapting to the slower metabolism of magazines has been a bit of a challenge. It's made me wish that there were more outlets that exist somewhere in between blogs and magazines, that pair the nimbleness and risk-taking of a blog with the rigorous editing and coherence (not to mention pay rates) of a magazine.
The New Inquiry functions as a sort of loose-knit editorial collective. As an editor I basically commission pieces that interest me whenever I have the time. (I'm a volunteer, like most editors.) It's been great working with writers who often come from outside of the media world on weird topics like cooking in Antarctica.
CAPITAL: You started covering cryptocurrency Bitcoin before most legacy media organizations picked up on the story. Why do you think it became such a media favorite, and do you think coverage of it peaked with the much-debated Newsweek story on Bitcoin's origins?
CHEN: Bitcoin is the perfect technology story because the technical details are nearly impossible to grasp, while the concept is obviously exciting. You have the compelling narrative of a bunch of nerds making millions of dollars out of thin air, paired with cryptographic mumbo-jumbo and Satoshi Nakamoto's uncertain identity. So even though you get the general idea of Bitcoin instantly there's an endless need for explainers. And explainers are the future of journalism.
The only thing still interesting about Bitcoin is Satoshi Nakamoto's real identity. I hope a few journalists are still on the trail, since Newsweek appears to have botched their story. I know I am. At this point I don't even care if I get the scoop; I just want someone to figure it out so I can stop wasting my time. Looking for Satoshi Nakamoto is how I procrastinate instead of playing 2048.
CAPITAL: It seems like more and media organizations are reporting on and leaning on Reddit and other online communities where source/story verification is more difficult. Do you see pitfalls here?
CHEN: The rise of Reddit as a tastemaker and source for journalists is the worst thing to happen to journalism since the sinking of The Maine. It's as if an energy drink-addled college sophomore who has issues with women became the internet's assignment editor. I used to rigorously comb Reddit for stories and I'm ashamed of the role I played in this state of affairs. Luckily Reddit has become increasingly self-obsessed and less useful as a source. Hopefully it will be completely irrelevant in a couple of years.
CAPITAL: To end on a supremely serious note, can you tell us about IRL (In Real Life) Club [http://goo.gl/6yVk9D]? How did you guys come to found it? Is there an initiation ritual?
CHEN: Nice try. I cannot reveal the secrets of IRL Club in this interview. You must come to IRL Club on April 30th at 7:30pm at the Bell House in Brooklyn. Bring a raincoat and a thumb drive. Tell no one.