Back to the list

Will blockchain kill traditional journalism?

20 November 2017 21:00, UTC
Sometimes journalism is ironically called "the second oldest profession." This term indeed has right to exist. In any case, all this time journalism, one way or another, depended on those who "call the tune" - organize the publishing process, pay salaries, organize distribution, and so on. But what if we stand on the threshold of an era when this settled order of things will collapse?

However, it is only blockchain journalism that is at issue at the moment. In particular, the technology of "smart contracts" has made possible the emergence of such platforms as Civil and Steemit - a self-managed platform for the media and social network, where not only posting, but even leaving comments and likes are rewarded. And these are not the only projects of this kind: PUBLIQ offers authors and readers "new sincerity" in journalism based on a reputation system. Media Shifter and Userfeeds are aimed at solving similar problems. We will try to understand the most striking examples.

Creators of Civil describe their offspring as "Self-Sustained Journalism" based on a simple observation - on the Internet, the media has much less costs than with traditional edition. Going online is supposed to preserve local journalism, which has long become unprofitable in the real world. It will allow to compete with media giants and, no matter how naive it may sound, will restore faith in honest journalism. All this will be achieved with the help of the "rooms" and "stations" system, as well as the technology of blockchain.

"Rooms" (newsroom) are created by readers who donate money to cover interesting topics. More people interested in a particular topic - more money is collected, which means that it attracts more journalists.

Bad journalists can be excluded from the room through voting. "Stations" are opened by journalists who already have experience working in "rooms". They are used by readers to pay for the creativity of their favourite author. Fact checking made by users is paid additionaly. Service's economy (access to stations, donations, fees for inactivity) work on CVL tokens. Thanks to blockchain, transactions with tokens are decentralized, they are based on "smart contracts" between readers and journalists. It seems that the idea has caught on - after the launch, capitalization of Civil began to grow at a pace comparable to that of Uber.

Jeremy Epstein, CEO of Never Stop Marketing, blockchain consultant, in an exclusive commentary to Bitnewstoday told about prospects of Civil: "High quality journalists will be rewarded for the work they create, just like high-quality posters are rewarded for adding value to Steem, a blockchain-based Reddit alternative." He is convinced that new era of blockchain journalism has already come, since the old pattern is not working anymore. "It's clear that the old model of journalism is dead already. The Internet killed it," says Epstein. Looking at the good old newspapers and magazines trying to exist on the Internet, it's hard not to agree with this.

On the other hand, there are fears about blockchain journalism becoming a "dictatorship of the majority". People tend to read those media whose ideology is more or less shared by them. Media outlets of broad orientation have different opinions, sometimes directly opposite. The most striking example is the division of the "democratic" and "conservative" press in the United States.

However, it can be assumed that the creation of a common space for different points of view within the same resource will help to smooth existing contradictions. As a rule, the policy of newspapers, magazines and even traditional blogs is determined by their management, which in the case of self-government will simply be needless. Or, at least, shouldn't exist as such - the Civil creators especially emphasize that their platform is not only open, but also ethical. But the latter concept opens a wide field for interpretation ...

Publiq platform sets a very similar task - a "fair" media environment based on DECENT blockchain designed for decentralized distribution of media content. "Today in the media, authors are paid for the amount of material written by them, and not for its quality. We want to destroy this unfair system and restore confidence in the media," says Alexander Tabbah, CEO of Publiq Foundation. "We decided to create space for professional authors with a "clean voice" that would find their readers without intermediaries," co-founder Gagik Yeghiazaryan echoes it.


The project is implemented with the help of reputation system, which influence the amount of daily rewards calculated in its own PBQ tokens. Information about transactions is stored on the capacities of the users that they provide to the project - of course, not for free. If some author gets a critical mass of negative feedback from readers, the community can deprive him of his wallet. It sounds pretty, it remains to find out how all this will work in practice and in the long run.

Unlike the ambitious media projects described above, Steemit is an ordinary social network, which resembles the well-known Reddit. With only one important difference - not only good publications are paid here, but even likes and comments. The Argentine social network Taringa has already tried to make something similar. But in the case of Steemit, it is based on blockchain technology - it makes transactions whose data is stored on ordinary servers. In this system there are three types of cryptocurrency - STEEM basic, Steem Power (the more of it user has - the more influential is the user's voice, and the more STEEM tokens he gets) and the Steem Dollar (STEEM equals to one US dollar, regardless of token's exchange rate). Today this social network has more than 450,000 accounts.

Russia does not stand aside from the world trends. The GOLOS platform is successfully working - it is licensed fork of the Steemit project.

Experts often talk about "blockchain epidemic", comparing it with the boom of dotcoms - they say, today this technology can be relevant but sometimes it is used out of place. Perhaps this is the way it is - the collapse of ICO and the financial failure of a number of relatively large projects suggests that not all "crypto ideas" deserve to be implemented.

At the same time, it is quite obvious that this technology has forever gone beyond the local IT craze - the growth of Steemit's capitalization on the best days was comparable only to Uber, and its founders are now engaged in the Smart Media Tokens project, which allows using a similar system of monetizing likes and comments in other media as well. Civil in its turn received an investment of five million dollars.

Experts believe that blockchain technology will give readers the opportunity to monitor all changes in the publication at any time, and no editing can hide the source. "This will guarantee respect of intellectual property rights, since any changes in the text create a new publication, and any republication has a link to the original text and its author," PUBLIQ notes.

It seems that blockchain radically changes the world of journalism. It is difficult to say whether all users of social networks will receive money for posting in a few years. But it is already clear that what is happening now is quite comparable to what ws witnessed by the previous generation - death of the paper media - and this is not the end.

How will blockchain solve new social media problems?