The internet has revolutionized news distribution from press print to online news resources. It dramatically lowered the barriers to publishing and created a cheap, instant, and mobile delivery of news content. A new marketplace that offers more choices than the world of print that also triggered significant changes in the way we consume news today. Initially, the main goal of social media and online news portal is to provide a better platform to access and share information and make news more public and democratic. However, as internet accelerates and widens the amount of data available to everyone, it also creates a news outlet without oversight, allowing anyone to create and share fake news, cyber propaganda, exaggerated stories, and photoshopped images which spread like wildfire across the internet. None of this is made better when the user’s online privacy is invaded. User’s personal information is constantly being gathered. Major social media platforms, online news portal, and forums leak user’s personal data and sell it to advertisers to make them a target for their ads. And, as these advertisers fund these digital media sites, they also wield editorial control over content. This results in bias news reporting, the reason why the public is losing confidence in the mainstream media.
Using Blockchain to Build Trust
The major concern with news sources in the digital age is verifiability. More people are scratching their heads, wondering if they can trust reports from these media sites to be factual. With accusations of being bias and controlled by hidden agendas of the gatekeepers and political parties, news reporting has never been less trusted or less transparent.
Blockchain technology can step in to provide a new ecosystem of information. Its ability to create a decentralized environment and immutable records to transmit data and resist tampering ensures a censorship-free media landscape. A handful of blockchain-driven media startups now are creating new and better ways to connect readers to writers directly that will enable readers to find and choose the topics they want to read about and verify news sources, removing the risk of censorship from centralized publisher. It will also allow writers to make legitimate income and monetize content through sharing.
Decentralized News and Documentation
New blockchain platforms are trying to disrupt the traditional news feeds by decentralizing news governance and creating community-powered marketplaces for production, distribution, and verification of news. One of the most common focus is on user-generated content and the ways in which content creators and curators get rewarded without any centralized intermediaries. Examples are DNN, Civil, and Userfeeds, to name a few. These platforms are decentralized news network backed by incentives or tokens for individuals to create, review, and consume news. It creates a network of readers, writers, reviewers, and publishers where news making and fact-checking are economically rewarded. DNN (Decentralized News Network) requires each story to undergo community review before it can be published. Civil (https://civil.co), on the other hand, creates “newsroom” and “stations” that facilitate the effective collaborative-editing method to ensure the overall content accuracy and legitimacy. And unlike Civil and DNN that utilizes community news verification, Userfeeds aims to stop fake news by using verifiable tokens to rank content. These tokens allow writers to authenticate the content they are creating thereby keeping them accountable. Moreover, by fostering an ecosystem of micro-payments between readers & writers, blockchain can replace the ad-based revenue stream journalism.
These are just a few of the many blockchain-driven media startups that have seen that media is already ripe for disruption. And like any technology in its early stages, there could be reasonable doubts as to whether these new projects will succeed or not in the field of journalism. But the fact that Wikipedia as a crowd-sourced online encyclopedia community has succeeded on a worldwide scale, it offers some hope for decentralized-media platforms to reinvent itself to make storytelling profitable and remove monopolies of traditional news outlets.
More and more projects are now focusing on blockchain applications and the value creation opportunity is huge. Regardless of the ultimate fate of these particular enterprises, there is certainty that news production and consumption is yet another industry that blockchain technology is about to shake up.