A mystery man. A splashy reveal. A media frenzy. Newsweek staked its return from the dead on a story it knew would get attention. A cover story claiming it had uncovered "the face behind bitcoin,'' the world's most popular digital currency.
It got plenty of attention, all right.
Twenty-four hours after identifying bitcoin's creator as a 64-year-old former defense contractor employee living in Los Angeles, the controversy over whether or not Newsweek had outed the right man was so furious that Newsweek reporter Leah McGrath Goodman made the rounds on Bloomberg TV and CBS Morning News to defend her reporting against Dorian Nakamoto's denials that he is the father of bitcoin. The magazine issued a statement standing by the story and said it had to hire a security detail for Goodman because of threats made against her.
In the comments section under Newsweek's statement backing the piece many people suggested the magazine had jumped the gun by publishing the story before it was fully reported out. Newsweek said Goodman's research was conducted under the same high standards that have guided Newsweek for more than 80 years, and that it expected the story, like any major news revelation, to spark controversy. Saying he was prepared for the "shitstorm,'' Newsweek editor in chief Jim Impoco told digital network Mashable on Friday that he remains confident in the story as reported and didn't see a need to frame the article more skeptically.
"Go large or go home. This is Newsweek,'' Impoco told Mashable. "We are raising the dead here. And you know what? People are aware of it now.''
Newsweek had been struggling for years when The Washington Post Co. sold it in 2010 for $1 to stereo equipment magnate Sidney Harman. Before he died the following year, Harman married Newsweek to IAC/InterActiveCorp's The Daily Beast website, with Tina Brown as editor, in a move intended to help widen its online audience. The plan failed, and Newsweek canceled its print edition at the end of 2012. The online magazine was sold to IBT, which owns Web publications including International Business Times, Medical Daily and Latin Times, last August for an undisclosed sum. This week it launched its comeback in print.
Since its inception, bitcoin's creator has been known only as "Satoshi Nakamoto,'' which many observers have believed to be a pseudonym for one or more people. In its debut cover story Thursday, Newsweek detailed its search for the mysterious