On her last trip to the Bahamas, Cheyenne Ligon did not go on a simple tropical getaway.
The CoinDesk reporter was sent on an early morning flight on Dec. 13, 2022, from New York to the Caribbean country to cover a legal proceeding. She had covered court cases before, but this one was different. It was the first courtroom appearance of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried following the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange platform.
"It was crazy," Ligon said. "The last time I had seen Sam Bankman-Fried before that was at a party when FTX was on top of the world. Then the next time I saw him, he was in a suit in front of a judge. For me personally, it was kind of surreal."
Along with her colleagues' reporting on FTX, Ligon's colorful account of the extradition hearing helped earn the CoinDesk news team a Gerald Loeb Award, one of the highest honors in business and financial journalism, on Sept. 28.
Ligon joined the news outlet after graduating from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at the City University of New York in December 2021. Before then, she was a paralegal, which she said helped her when she covered court cases on her beat.
She was part of the team at CoinDesk that covered FTX and published the Nov. 2, 2022, report that first broke the story on the instability of the platform and Alameda Research, a trading firm owned by Bankman-Fried. From there came bankruptcy filings from both of Bankman-Fried's companies, followed by his resignation and arrest.
Now covering money management at Pensions & Investments, Ligon was announced as a finalist alongside her former colleagues in the beat reporting category in August. She was surprised when the team won against other news outlets, including Bloomberg.
"For a lot of us that were nominated, I think it was just an honor to be there," Ligon said. "We didn't really expect to win, so it was super exciting."