Modern journalism is not the most friendly industry. Journalists are tied to big magazines and publishers with strict policies, so authors need to self-censor their articles. The lives of innocent people may be ruined by clickbait material. Magazines are always looking for new ways to support themselves because everyone wants to read them online for free.
Blockchain can combat all these issues. Decentralization eliminates the possible censorship, while fair user rates won’t let the clickbait articles even launch. Tokenization and cryptocurrencies unlocking new ways to fund independent journalists and publishers.
Check this article to find out how blockchain journalism can transform it all for good. I even added a few services that you can use to promote your words and your truth today. Buckle up, it will be an exciting journey!
Challenges in the Contemporary Publishing and Journalism Industry
Modern journalism is far from its peak. It’s more safe to say that it is in its fall stage. The rise of digital media led to a decline in the readership of print magazines. Everyone starts to read news online. However, magazines didn’t get the revenue that they used to get.
They have launched paywalls where users should subscribe to this media monthly mandatorily. Otherwise, they can’t read even a single article from these media. It lowers magazine engagement even more.
The only media who survived were the big conglomerates or those who started to put multiple digital ads on every page. This ownership concentration has led to concerns about the diversity of voices and perspectives represented in the media.
Everyone becomes obsessed with clicks. The more views the magazine article gets, the more people see the ad, so magazines get a higher revenue for that text. It led to the rise of clickbait headlines and fake news.
The internet has made it easier than ever to publish content, both real and fake. This has led to an increase in misinformation and disinformation spread, damaging the public's trust in journalism.
As of today, people don’t know who they can trust, so they don’t believe any media. It made it even harder for publishers and journalists to attract and retain readers.
As the cherry on the top, digital publishers often face content piracy and copyright infringements. The ease of sharing content online has made it easier for people to pirate and infringe on copyrights. So, publishers make even less from each publication than they possibly could.
Is Blockchain A Solution to Modern Publishing Issues?
Blockchain is a distributed immutable record technology. It can store everything: from financial transactions to articles, photos, and videos.
This technology will ease the tracking content provenance, making it easier to combat misinformation and fake news spreading. Once data is added to the chain, it can’t be removed. Everyone will see who posted the news first, making it easier to identify the primary source.
Blockchain also can track copyright ownership, making it easier to enforce copyright laws. It will reduce the amount of pirated content. It also makes future journalism more censorship-resistant.
Creators will have more control over their content and how it is distributed. If they want to get more direct monetization, they can tokenize their content and directly sell NFTs to their fans. That way fans buy part of the ownership for that piece of content, while the author gets the money without intermediaries.
Cent network allows users to transfer their content into collectibles. It allows creators to build unique tokenized experiences, including NFT subscriptions, digital twins in Metaverse, blockchain-based ticketing, NFT drops, donations, and more.
Blockchain services allow journalists to interact with fans meaningfully, building a strong bond between creator and audience. People will feel they are morally invested in this crypto reporter, so they are more likely to stay with the creator in the long run.
Real-world Examples of Blockchain in Publishing and Journalism
As I said before, blockchain can solve many journalism and publishing challenges: from censorship and fake news to monetization and distribution. We can track the history of blockchain-based tools for journalists back to 2016 with the rise and fall of the Civil platform.
It was a decentralized service for writers that used blockchain technology to build trustworthy journalism. The platform used a voting system to allow users to upvote or downvote articles. But in 2020, they were merged with ConsenSys. Their developers are still working at Consensys, but the Civil platform was shut down.
Another merged pioneer of blockchain journalism was PO.ET. It was a platform that allowed users to track the ownership and provenance of digital content, including articles. They were merged with the MADNetwork.
However, there are many successful cases of blockchain-based journalist platforms. Codex, Theta Network, and Steemit are the most common examples.
Codex is a platform that allows its users to verify the authenticity of a collectible by viewing its provenance. Authors and journalists can verify their text as a digital asset.
Theta Network is a blockchain-based platform allowing users to share and monetize their content and earn rewards from fans. They have Sony Europe and American Idol as their clients: major businesses want to experiment with new technologies.
Steemit platform allows users to publish and read content for free. If a user wants to support their favorite author, they can donate or subscribe to them. By doing it, they can support their favorite journalists monthly. Content producers retain full ownership and control over their creations.
The Benefits of Implementing Blockchain in Publishing
Censorship is one of the primary journalist challenges today. As of late 2023, even Twitter doesn’t allow sharing thoughts and research on sensitive topics.
On the other hand, blockchain tools are not controlled by any single entity. Journalists should stick with pre-described smart contract requirements. If the content passes smart contract approval, no one can censor it retrospectively.
Blockchain technology eases the distribution process. Journalists can publish their content directly to readers, bypassing traditional intermediaries such as publishers and distributors. It will make it easier for independent publishers to reach a wider audience.
Blockchain tools can track copyright ownership, improving content rights management. If you are a journalist and another person plagiarizes your content, the system notifies you ASAP.
Considering blockchain tools can track provenance, they can monitor the primary sources of the information. It helps to combat fake news spreading, as anyone can check the source's credibility.
Blockchain can distribute content directly to readers, bypassing traditional intermediaries such as publishers and distributors. It will reduce the cost of publishing and make it easier for independent publishers to reach a wider audience.
Last but not least are the money-related blockchain benefits. Users can subscribe to their favorite journalists and donate to them directly with crypto. Social media blockchain creators can also tokenize their work, selling it as NFT. Smart contracts can automate the royalty process, ensuring that creators are paid fairly for their work.
The Potential Drawbacks and Criticisms
Blockchain is still a new technology. It has its drawbacks that slow up the adoption process. It’s not as scalable as more traditional services. We may not see it today in decentralized content services because blockchain is still a “geek” thing. Once they become more common, we will see a poor bandwidth of current consensus processes.
We can address it today by creating more scalable consensus mechanisms and promoting layer-2 solutions, side chains, sharding, and other ways to fasten the transaction processes.
The other potential challenge is over-reliance on technology. For some reason, even experts can over-rely on new tools. There are cases where lawyers lose their jobs because they ask for evidence in AI tools.
No technology is perfect. It’s just a tool. So, people should double-check everything even while using blockchain-based tools.
The third main concern is potential centralization and censorship. Small businesses and independent journalists may not have the money to have their blockchain network or financially support independent blockchain projects.
However, media conglomerates always have the money and desire to explore new technologies. It may lead to the risk of partial centralization of blockchain. The majority of the power on these platforms may be controlled by a few devices.
If we want to build a fair future, we should let technology evolve by creating new fair regulations. Those laws should recognize the main blockchain challenges and overcome them without centralizing the industry.
We already see the rise of verification and donation platforms. These services will become even more popular in the future. Considering the rise of AI, we will also see services with advanced content verification.
Developers can train AI tools to identify fake news, while blockchain will track the content provenance. That’s how people can ensure that content is accurate and authentic.
We also will see the growth of decentralized news platforms that allow journalists to publish without a centralized authority like magazine editors. Authors will have more freedom of speech, while users can read more points of view for pressing problems.
Tokenization is a great way to monetize the work as a creator. Journalists will use this opportunity to sell their exclusive materials as NFTs. People can buy access to their exclusive digital columns by buying the token that unlocks it.
Considering traditional media are already trying blockchain tools, we may see partnerships between media conglomerates and crypto startups. But, we as a society should keep an eye on these partnerships. Otherwise, they may lead to even more centralization of the media industry.
I think the development of decentralized publishing services will be gradual, but inevitable. We already see how independent journalists ask their audience to support them by sending crypto to their wallet or subscribing to Patreon. It will become even more common and more civilized shortly.
Blockchain is a disruptive technology with the potential to change the publishing world. It can address main industry challenges: fake news, copyright infringement, lack of readers, poor funding, and even censorship.
Blockchain tools track content’s provenance, making it easier to verify its authenticity. It will ease the search for primary sources, combating fake news and clickbait.
These services can also track copyright ownership. When someone decides to plagiarize the content, the system will notify the original author about it.
We already see the new monetization models such as crypto donations and NFTs. These ways to support favorite authors directly will become more common. It will boost independent publishers to release more materials, making journalism more decentralized.
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