Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin recently suggested that blockchain-based journalism platforms like Civil can help return ethics to the journalism industry. In order to fully grasp this idea, here’s your technical insight into how this feat can be achieved using the technology lying behind bitcoin, blockchain.
Blockchain removes the presence of middlemen from a framework as it provides a decentralized network where various nodes are directly communicating with each other. Blockchain-based decentralized networks also have their own native tokens which represent value in the network. So the economy that is built around this token unlocks the potential to remove central party where rewards and incentives are shared between the users through specified network rules.
Brave, which is an ad-free browser and uses Basic Attention Token as its native digital currency, is one of the best examples depicting the elimination of third-parties while maintaining a sustainable economic model. Through its unique framework, it eliminates middlemen ad-exchanges and directly puts the users, publishers, and advertisers in touch with each other in the network. Based on the metric of ‘Attention’, publishers get their rewards directly from the network. Advertisers pay the network in order to run their ads. Users get to earn rewards if they choose to view the ads. Middlemen ad-exchanges which take up a huge cut in the current frameworks and Brave gives us a glimpse into how they can be eliminated for good using blockchain. But how can this all help improve journalism? Before moving into the matter, the need is to understand the shortcomings associated with the current journalism framework.
Big media houses and corporations are often accused of working for maximum viewership even if the rules of journalism are compromised. Political and governmental influence has also marred the reputation of many newsrooms. The competition drives sources to break the news first even if it is inaccurate. Journalistic ethics are compromised in order to add as much spice in a story as possible which often leads to journalists behaving badly with people of influence. With a blockchain-based platform where misbehavior and malicious activities of journalists can be penalized by the public directly through the network with no backing by a brand name, these issues are eliminated. The revenue model based on advertisement also changes as journalists and newsrooms can get direct funding from the viewers based on their work.
Journalists can benefit from a decentralized blockchain network by eliminating their dependency on popular news brands which are often accused of showing biased behavior. On a blockchain-based journalism platform, a token can be defined with a value and rewards to the journalists can be given based on the stories that they generate and the amount of traction that they gain. Readers can also directly help their favorite journalists through tipping. Using the tokens, journalists can open their own little newsrooms.
Since the content is on a blockchain, it is visible to everyone and is not changeable. This also prevents articles from being edited later on owing to unwanted pressure. Journalists using sucha a platform will be more aware of the content they put out as it can have severe effects on their reputation later on owing to being immutable. Readers become the center of attention for the journalists as well because they are the one helping them flourish in the network. Fake news sources and bad-reputed journalists can also be thrown off the network.
A platform that goes by the name of ‘Civil’ was just recently launched with aims at using the blockchain tech in order to improve the journalism arena by providing a transparent and community-driven network. Every major change in the network requires approval from the community. The native currency in the Civil ecosystem is CVL which is an ethereum-based token. Journalists can enter the Civil ecosystem in order to build their own independent empire. Regarding the platform Civil co-founder and spokesperson Matthew Coolidge stated:
Our initial focus is on catering to independent journalists who want to tap into this larger community, and have a more deliberate reason to access their peers, and to get cheaper rates on services like licensing AP content or hiring custom WordPress devs.
There are still some loopholes that need to be worked out. If users are in charge of controlling the kind of news that they see, the need arises to make the platform as neutral as possible because it can be manipulated by various groups. Overall, blockchain does possess the potential of giving us a sustainable and independent framework free from middlemen intervention it will be interesting to see how things pan out for Civil as it places the readers and the journalists directly in touch with each other removing organizational interference.