Andreas Sandre

@andreas212nyc

Is blockchain the future of journalism and storytelling?

“A cup of espresso in a red mug on a wooden coaster with a glass of water, on top of a magazine” by Oliver Thomas Klein on Unsplash

Many new partnerships and initiatives are popping up, including Unsplash, Simple Token, Po.et, and Civil.

Blockchain is usually associated to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and ethereum. But more and more projects are now focusing on blockchain applications for journalisms and storytelling.

Today’s announcement by Jason Goldberg of Simple Token (OST) of an investment in photography platform Unsplash — which counts billions of photo views a month — is a clear example. The two are partnering “to tokenize these billions of photo events, bring blockchain to the mainstream, and create the new currency for photography.”

“Colorful software or web code on a computer monitor” by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

The investment goes beyond the recently-announced partnership between Medium, its founder Ev Williams, and Unspash, which creates a seamless way to add photos to Medium posts “adding an impactful visual component to them,” as explains CEO Mikael Cho.

Unsplash partnership with OST goes a few step further and aims at building a new economy around photography and storytelling.

“Blockchain technology is a perfect fit for Unsplash,” writes Goldberg in a Medium post, explaining that the existing online stock marketplaces simply brought the old print model online, without innovating it. “Unsplash and OST will utilize blockchain to create the new model and the new currency for photography.”

“The blockchain and cryptocurrency movement, largely popularized by Bitcoin, represents what many people see as the future operating system for the world’s transactions,” says Cho.

The new partnership won’t be a model where photos are going to be paid for with cryptocurrencies. It will be a model that works equally well for both photographers and creators, putting the accent on the great community that contributed to Unspash growing so fast in the past few years — 400,000 photos on the platform, downloaded more than 310 million times; 2,000+ photos viewed across the web every second; 65,000+ creators sharing photos; 300,000+ photo taggers and curators; 25 million+ creators who use Unsplash to create; 1,200+ API partners .

In a way, OST and Unsplash are trying to accomplish what journalism and the blogging community have been trying to achieve with monetization initiatives. Even Medium has been trying to reinvent itself to make storytelling profitable.

“A vintage analogue typewriter with a white plain paper” by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

“Until now, online journalistic outlets have been stuck with an unenviable choice,” explains Nicky Woolf in a recent post. “Either they fund their operations by putting their journalism behind a paywall — doable if you have a large, loyal audience like the New Yorker or the Times of London, but less of an option for smaller or local publications — or through advertising, where Google and Facebook greedily take the lion’s share of revenue for themselves.”

Woolf shows how blockchain can offer “an ecosystem of micro-payments, in which everyone pays fractions of a penny for every article they read.” Something like that — he says — “has long been thought of as the holy grail for online journalism” until now.

While OST and Unsplash news are very exciting for the future of storytelling and journalism, another announcement has hit the blockchain community recently, with Jarrod Dicker, formerly with the Washington Post, joining Po.et as CEO “to create a better model for the media ecosystem.

As Dicker explains, “now with an online community of more than 40,000 developers and creators spanning Telegram, Reddit, Twitter and other social media platforms, Po.et has used the Bitcoin blockchain and InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) to build a new media infrastructure for the digital economy.”

Moving storytelling and the creative community, including journalism, to the blockchain has a clear impact on turkey solutions “to help with asset protection, authentication and certification.”

“By leveraging information and data, Po.et can provide an extendable platform for end-to-end transparency in media attribution and valuation,” Dicker writes. “The platform will showcase, archive and track content where buyers and the community set its value.”

It provides a steady signal to creators of the quality of their work, as rewarded by the community, brands and publishers.

Here’s how Po.et works:

  • Po.et keeps a ledger of all creative assets. Its technology records all actions, changes and locations of origination for IP rights disposition.
  • Using Po.et, brands, publishers and individuals now have an equal opportunity to access the best content and own an original voice regardless of business and historical relationships.
  • Creators own their IP and their identities, as defined by their creative assets on the platform.
  • Control of distribution and message by publisher and brand is now reversed.
  • In the market today, Po.et is the first and most evolved open-source publisher on the blockchain.
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Another interesting journalism platform using blockchain is Civil: Self-Sustaining Journalism, a decentralized news-making platform which has recently announced $5 million in funding from blockchain venture production studio ConsenSys.

The blockchain-based platform enables a direct relationship between journalists and will protect journalists against censorship and intellectual property disputes while substantially limiting misinformation.

“In Civil’s self-governing marketplace, readers may directly sponsor newsrooms, and journalists collaboratively run their own publications,” states a press release. “Readers may subscribe to Civil-hosted publications, and will use Civil’s cryptocurrency or CVL tokens to sponsor individual journalists, investigations and stories, creating a new collaborative model for the gathering and dissemination of news.”

In addition, Civil’s independent journalism advisory board will oversea the platform to ensure fair, objective, professional standards.

“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,” said Civil founder Matthew Iles.

Our goal is to create a self-sustaining global marketplace for journalism that is free from advertising, fake news, and outside influence.

These are exciting time for storytelling and blockchain!

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