How blockchain can help save journalism

Feb. 9, 2018

With the epic rise and fall of Bitcoin at the start of 2018, there is no escaping the endless headlines surrounding blockchain. But blockchain isn’t just for digital currencies, the decentralised technology can disrupt numerous industries, including the world of news. In fact, a number of blockchain journalism startups like Civil and Publicism have launched to help attempt to save journalism. With clickbait and public distrust in the media at an all time high, there’s never been a better moment for this innovation aid the free press. Now, let’s take a closer looks at what the blockchain means for the news industry overall.


1. First off, what is the blockchain? “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions, but virtually everything of value,” explains author Don Tapscott in his book Blockchain Revolution.


2. But what does that actually mean? For a simpler explanation, we turn to BlockGeeks: “Picture a spreadsheet that is duplicated thousands of times across a network of computers. Then imagine that this network is designed to regularly update this spreadsheet and you have a basic understanding of the blockchain.”


3. So how does that relate to journalism? The founder of Civil, a startup that is trying to create a blockchain-based marketplace for journalism wrote in a blog,"By providing the economic incentives and governance structures for newsmakers – writers, editors, photographers, fact-checkers  – to self-organize, Civil offers a new business model for journalism." Matt Founder of Civil


4. How can blockchain journalism protect the free press? Dutch startup Publicism is developing a tool to use blockchain to protect journalists and their sources. It enables journalists to publish and finance their work safely by guaranteeing the anonymity of sources, bloggers and even themselves. These actions directly encourage press freedom in the age of state surveillance.


5. How does fact checking work with the blockchain? One organisation that is attempting to make the news industry more factual is by Trive News. Instead of building a whole new platform like Civil, their idea involves fact checking with mass media verification. It researches and clarifies facts through crowdsourcing and motivates people to do primary research into news stories. Those people are then compensated for their effort, while the results are saved on the blockchain.


Interested to learn more about security and the protection of journalists? Sign up for the Rory Peck Trust’s course on risk assessment here.