When blockchain startup Civil unveiled their plans for a blockchain-based marketplace for journalism earlier this year, reactions ranged from excited to bewildered. For some, the model was seen as a revolutionary new mechanism for funding journalism in the digital age, while others are still trying to figure out how it works and why it’s necessary.
Now, as the company lines up their first publications ready for launch in January, the project is starting to attract further attention from investors, publishers and other stakeholders.
Civil’s aim is to utilise blockchain technology to develop a decentralised marketplace, through which journalists and their readers can jointly work to create the journalism they want to see. Audiences support journalists and publications through the platform’s CVL token, an on-platform cryptocurrency that is designed to reward content creators in a meritocratic way.
In addition to providing a mechanism for funding journalism, Civil has one further core advantage – it enables journalists to create media within the blockchain environment, recording their features with the security and immutability of the distributed ledger.
By allowing publications to archive their content permanently within the Civil blockchain, it is immune from deletion or interference from third parties, unlike the traditionally-funded media, where articles can disappear overnight on a whim.
Civil has just announced $5 million in funding, backed by ConsenSys, which will now help the firm recruit the first wave of journalists and publications to the platform. The hope is that over time, more media outlets and freelance journalists will switch to the platform, as readers become more familiar with the system and how it works.
Blockchain technology has already been disruptive in a number of fields, most notable financial services where banks in particular stand to realise significant efficiency gains, thanks to the unique features of the distributed ledger.
There are also applications for the underlying technology across a range of other sectors, and there is no reason journalism too couldn’t benefit from a newly envisaged model.
What remains to be seen is whether Civil can capitalise on the opportunity, and whether their first wave of publications will be enough to encourage readers to move to the platform. But as more consumers become familiar with the idea behind blockchain technologies, and how these might work for platforms like Civil, the company is well positioned to help shape the future of online journalism