We weren’t really sure if it was the last day or not. The jury determining Sam Bankman-Fried’s fate had begun deliberating the charges just a few hours before, after Judge Lewis Kaplan had spent much of the morning and some time after lunch reading out a 60-page charging document. Surely a case of this complexity – seven different charges, billions of dollars allegedly stolen, questions about whether witnesses were telling the truth – would take a while.
But as the press pool enjoyed pizza and canned sodas (or their fourth? fifth? cup of coffee) last Thursday, there was a definite sense of finality in the air. Over the past month, some 20 or 30 of us had been reaching the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse in lower Manhattan before the sun rose. Reporters arrived at 5 a.m. – or earlier (way, way earlier) – to make it into the main courtroom or at least snag one of the better seats in the overflow room. By Thursday, all of that was done. There was no more testimony forthcoming, we’d seen all of the witnesses and so many exhibits had been introduced that the judge and attorneys had been cracking jokes about their volume.
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Throughout October, many of us scrambled to file stories as news happened. Whether it was former Alameda Research CEO Caroline Ellison testifying that Bankman-Fried had authorized an attempt to bribe Chinese government officials or an accountancy professor testifying about funds flowing through bank accounts, you could often step right outside the courthouse and see a line of reporters calling their editors, typing up their notes or recording podcasts wherever they found a spot.
Every news organization had its own particular method. CoinDesk sought to provide real-time updates as we could, sending reporters out to file stories while testimony was still underway, similarly to many of our colleagues. Other news organizations published broader takeaways at the end of a trial day. Some posted their works early the next morning. It really was a microcosm of the world of journalism.
And though we were competitors, there was also a strong sense of…