Ethereum-Powered Civil Aims to Advance the Journalism Industry Using Blockchain
To understand this question, one must understand the current issues with journalism. The problems with journalism have never changed much. Governments, corporations, and powerful have controlled the world of journalism. The widespread lack of transparency, accountability, and in some instances, the use of censorship, or threats towards journalists to prevent their work from being published. It is indeed a dog-eat-dog world in the Wild Wild West of what the journalism is today.
While the puppeteers from above have always been there, there is an exponential growth of public concern about the crisis in journalism, and it is demanding that the system changes. The business model for journalism needs to be ripped out from under it, and re-written.
Currently, there are many ways to pay for news, and each has their pros and cons. There is government funded news which lacks independence and trust. There is also non-profit (philanthropy), potentially independent, which has unpredictable long-term sustainability. There is always the prioritized scale, shoddy, cheap, and shocking content paid by advertising companies which often also harvests personal data from viewers.
As the world has been continuously shifting into the digital age, many news companies have given up their relationship with Google and Facebook. On Google or Facebook distribution and livelihood depend on playing by these platforms’ rules, even if you try to growth-hacking them to generate better results (SEO keyword stuffing or socially engineered clickbait). All the while, advertising became the predominant funding source for online media, yet the vast majority is scooped up by Google and Facebook.
In summary, the Internet, once an inspiring utopian of a free and open information and communication network has now become known for noise, nastiness, misinformation and wrong incentives when it comes to journalism. Meanwhile, journalists have faced mass layoffs and many news organizations have gone under completely. The Journalism industry is taking a significant hit.
The weak public sentiment towards news agencies is demonstrated as Trump’s favorite term has become increasingly famous, “Fake News;” as people have lost trust in their news agencies. The more significant problem is that this issue is not getting any better, in fact, it’s getting worse, and fast.
“Journalism needs a radically new operating paradigm.” – Civil
Civil Media Company Steps in to Save the Day
This is where Civil Media Company has stepped into bridge-the-gap and strengthen the broken relationship between the news and the public. The engines behind Civil began to get running when A Ph.D. in machine learning from Mexico asked if he could help with the project because the corruption and violence against journalists in his home country were so horrible, and that he lives in fear for the future security and prosperity of his country. From the other side of the globe, a journalist in Egypt reached out and asked whether Civil could help her news organization battle off the government. The government was being persistent in its efforts to block the public from accessing her news website and social media. Finally, an entrepreneur in India asked if he could start his own news company on Civil to “help the democracy survive” because “most media here is sold to politicians and corporations.” With these complaints piling up, Civil knew they had to take action. The world has already demonstrated the need for Civil as around 600 organizations has already applied to start newsrooms on Civil, 40% of which come from outside the United States.
Civil is a decentralized communications protocol for both journalists and the general public to use. The system does not need third parties such as advertisers and centralized publisher giants. Civil’s vision is to support independent newsrooms focused on producing high-quality local, international, investigative and policy news.
With an economic model seeking to enable a more direct, transparent relationship between journalists and citizens, while using blockchain to also strengthen protections for journalists against censorship and intellectual property violations, Civil will be the long needed radical operating paradigm shift in the news industry that we have all been waiting on. With goals to create a marketplace for journalism that is free from manipulative ads, misinformation, outside influence, and is sustainable, Civil will undoubtedly be impressive.
Civil differs from current media companies where centralized operators control the distribution of content to the public. Civil plans to strengthen the trust between the relationship between citizens and traditional news agencies with a completely transparent and autonomic decentralized approach. This will create a renewed appreciation for the value of financially supporting journalism directly.
Activity on Civil will be mediated through the Ethereum blockchain. Not only that, but an active a community of consumers, content creators, fact checkers, and publishers will be working together to make group decisions on how to organize newsrooms as well as the types of content published on the network. This is much better than traditional media platforms in which the given platform or publisher dictates which content its readers can consume. Civil is a decentralized network that the people curate.
With a platform built on openness, decentralization, self-governance, immutable records, and mission-aligned incentives (and disincentives), Civil will begin the change in journalism from the current traditional media paradigm toward one that services trust, freedom, justice and has the public as its top priority.
Civil strives to be a globally cooperative, publicly owned domain for independent journalism including: (1) owned and operated by journalists and citizens, beyond the reach of the control of governments, companies, or wealth; (2) committed to self-sovereign identity, intellectual property rights, censorship resistance, civil discourse, and ethical journalism; (3) with business model innovations across licensing and syndication; reputation and talent; membership and advocacy; curation and discovery; verification and fact-checking; polling and social; analytics and archiving; and even advertising and sponsorship. Civil plans to not only set the standard, and remain the standard as a decentralized media platform.
Civil is much more than technology or a token to trade on an exchange; it’s a journalism movement. The global community needs to be committed to ethical journalism and work together. Civil will work with the world to build the new journalism ecosystem from the ground up.A New Ecosystem for Journalism
Civil can thank the incentivized global crypto-economy for giving it the opportunity to be self-governed. The Civil community uses a cryptocurrency, or token called CVL to power a token-curated registry (TCR). A part of this TCR is the council which can review challenges, overturn malicious attacks, and can help protect against mob rule. This council is led by expert journalists, academics, and free press leaders from around the world ensuring a decentralization of governance.
The Civil Constitution contains the core values and working standards of the Civil ecosystem. Every CVL token holder is motivated to see the Civil ecosystem flourish, and every actor within the ecosystem is held accountable for their actions through this decentralized governance system. By possessing a CVL token, you possess real voting power.
Changing the Publishing Process
The publishing process will change as anyone on Civil may contribute pieces of journalism, but first, they must pledge to follow the rules outlined in the Civil Constitution. Violators of this Constitution will result in the economic loss (forfeited CVL tokens) and potentially banishment from the Civil ecosystem overall. Only newsrooms on the Civil registry and their associated journalists may publish using Civil’s technology.
With blockchain technology, Civil makes a “fingerprint” of the source of content. Data such as who was the author, through what newsroom, where and when is finally entirely stored in a verifiable and non-hackable manner. Citizens who encounter a newsroom running on Civil can feel confident that journalist’s work is authentic which is held accountable by the self-governance system incentivized to expose unethical behavior.
Civil will use blockchain technology to enable superior management of digital property compared to the traditionally used methodologies. While the “fingerprinting” process is secure, Newsrooms can also more efficiently track, control, and monetize their content with third-party licensees. Civil will have expired licenses automatically revoked and restricted from accessing content, infringing publishers can be appropriately penalized, and the content creators can finally best capture the full value of their work. Civil will be changing the world of licensing with blockchain technology.
Incentives of Being a Member
Civil creates a more direct and fulfilling form of membership support between journalists and citizens with cryptocurrency. Those who contribute to newsrooms with cryptocurrency will know that 100% of their funds will reach their intended target (except for the small, decentralized transaction fee). To not limit the public’s access while this technology matures, citizens will always be able to support newsrooms using fiat currencies as well. Civil is doing more than just eliminating intermediaries and third-party influencers; Civil is using crypto-economics to power engagement and advocacy through an unusual way of dynamic reward systems that vests members in the long-term sustainability of the newsroom.
A New Form of Curation
Blockchain and crypto-economics combed together in the Civil system to facilitates new and improved forms of curation and discovery. Those who help influence and who help spread high-quality material may be economically rewarded. All while content creators can have an opportunity to capture new forms of revenue through syndication contracts that bring balance back to the relationship between author and aggregator. Newsrooms will be able to share more traffic more efficiently. Finally, fact-checkers can be appropriately incentivized to vet evolving stories in detail and citizens can decide to send their data to more ethically power recommendation algorithms. This curation process is unlike any other methodology used today, and it certainly has the potential to be part of the catalyst in this paradigm shift in the journalism industry.
Privacy and Identity
Civil is bringing the community self-sovereign identity. This is a new paradigm for user privacy and online control delivered to the world through blockchain technology. Journalists now can openly share their status with the world, but also able to mask it when appropriate or necessary, such as when publishing within a critical topic or region of the world. Also, Citizens will have the ability to opt-in or out of sharing bits of personal information with individual newsrooms, apps, and services.
However, those who opt-in will be exchanging their bits of personal data for enhanced crypto experiences and even crypto-economic rewards. Users can also be confident in knowing the data cannot be hacked or improperly shared without their consent. Newsrooms and journalists can finally accrue credible and reliable community-powered reputation scores for trust and quality, which enables for more robust talent throughout the networks, improved discovery, and higher ethical practices.
Civil will use cryptocurrency to enable and reward higher-quality forms of social content online, as well as economic and reputation penalties for trollish or hateful behavior. Journalists will have the ability to tip citizens for making insightful comments, and citizens can earn status transferable across newsrooms to unlock premium features such as promotions. Bad actors, on the other hand, will rightfully face increasingly expensive fines or even outright banishment. Social media is currently flooded with a mess of bots, misinformation, and hateful trolls. Civil is building an environment that can flourish knowing that trust, accountability, and community health are the top priorities, above all else.
New Methods of Data Storage
Through the use of blockchain technology, censorship resistance is enabled through permanent archiving and decentralized storage. Through this storage process, no single actor may solely change the immutable ledger. This system places “the first draft of history” past the reach of censorship and even insolvency. Civil is currently developing partnerships with universities and libraries throughout the U.S. and around the world to support a decentralized storage solution for journalism. Civil is becoming the modern-day equivalent of microfiche records.
Blockchain and crypto-economics have also opened the door to an environment that can allow entirely new methodologies of indexing, ranking, and tracking content as value is part and parcel to each ‘link.’ This self-sovereign paradigm invites opt-in data markets for trusting clusters of newsrooms that will have the ability to share business information with each other, while citizens may confidently participate in online polls without giving away sensitive personal data.
Advertising Differently in Newsroom
While journalism has always intermeddled with third-party advertising, recent years have shown a malicious new paradigm known for personal harvesting data, social hacking, misinformation, and vast consolidation of revenue to the Big Platforms instead of news organizations.
Civil not only believes that journalism must be independent, but it must also be sustainable. Civil recognizes that an utterly ad-free approach is impossible, but blockchain and crypto-economics can introduce advertising into a purpose-built, self-governing environment in a way that ensures adherence to its purpose, values, and ethics. Journalists will control who advertises in their newsroom, citizens will be rewarded for their attention, and low-quality or low-relevance advertisers could be penalized and may even be removed altogether in a completely decentralized manner.
Future of Civil
Civil already has partnerships lined up with some of the most recognized institutions around the world, and that list is growing (around 600 already). The launch of the CVL token later this summer will genuinely kick-off this innovative project. Tokens will be distributed to the participating journalists, citizens, and the governance and publishing layers will go live this summer. Based on increasing demand and planned to recruit efforts, Civil is expecting to have more than 1000 newsrooms before the end of the year.
If you’re interested in getting an involved visit at civil.co or find them on Twitter.