Civil Strives To Create Stable Future For Independent Journalism Via Blockchain

This summer, Civil Media Company has seen the launch, or pending launch, of several new, independent newsrooms across its blockchain platform. 

Take The Colorado Sun, for example, run by former Denver Post editors. It just closed out a successful Kickstarter campaign bringing in more than $160, 000 to fund its new newsroom. The outlet published its first newsletter-exclusive story recently and will launch as a full-fledged news site later this summer.

Other new outlets, like Block Club Chicago, run by ex-DNAInfo Chicago staffers and focused on local news, have also reported successful Kickstarter runs, revealing a public willing to pay for independent journalism. 

The rise of these new outlets — 14 on Civil in all — comes as many newsrooms have been decimated by layoffs and consolidations, usually to boost profits rather than sustain journalism. 

Matt Coolidge, a Civil cofounder-head of brand and communications, adds: “It’s not the fault of the journalists, but the ownership system they’ve been forced into. Newspapers are increasingly seen not as purveyors of a vital public good, but as a distressed asset by the hedge funds and private-equity firms increasingly purchasing them."



He notes their eye is on "streamlining operational efficiency and maximizing their own profit margins.”

Coolidge and his cofounders developed Civil to decentralize the publishing model. It is a way to incentivize individuals to “act with the greater good of the platform, not their own individual interests."

“Blockchain allows us to introduce a cooperatively owned-and-operated model where a large global community, not a hedge fund or tech firm, controls the platform,” Coolidge told Publishing Insider. 

“We’re building a network that’s predicated on being home for quality journalism above all else — and which has specific rules and incentives in place to reward those who positively contribute to its growth.”

In addition to the Civil Media Company, the Civil Foundation was formed. The foundation is an independent, nonprofit organization receiving initial backing and support from the media company, which will act as a think tank and work to “uphold and advance Civil’s ethical journalism standards,” while also overseeing philanthropic grants.  

NPR’s Vivian Schiller became CEO of the foundation earlier this year.  

Citing a recent Reuters Institute study that surmised approximately 10% of the population is willing to pay for news, Coolidge is hopeful an incentive-based market could lead to a sustainable future for journalism, specifically through the introduction of the CVL token system. That allows users to pay or reward the work they’re most invested in. 

“We want to unite these people in a network that prioritizes ethical journalism above all, and which promotes a novel new way to support newsrooms,” said Coolidge. 

“It’s a grand experiment to be sure, but we think it holds tremendous potential. It can only be realized if we can connect with that critical subset of the population that see Civil as a way to promote a better way forward for a beleaguered industry.”

2 comments about "Civil Strives To Create Stable Future For Independent Journalism Via Blockchain".
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  1. Donald Frazier from OneVideo Technology, August 21, 2018 at 2:04 p.m.

    How is blockchain techology a part of this?  It's possible to build distributed networks to do as described above for the last 15, 20 years.

    One suggestion that's been raised: on this platform, each reader click will be a part of a bit coin mining operation, and that's where the revenues come from.

    Worht tracking down.

  2. Larry Sands from Monarch Information Systems, August 22, 2018 at 12:24 p.m.

    Not sure how blockchain fits in here. The idea that the decimation of newsrooms is solely to " boost profits rather than sustain journalism" ignores the near financial collapse of the print industry as newspapers struggle to stay alive in today's digital news environment. When local papers drop from 80 pages to 40, is that because of corporate greed, or because advertisers have shifted their dollars from newspaper to search and social media? Newspapers have always printed more pages if the demand for ad space is there. Newspapers are no longer the sole or even primary source of news; news breaks on Twitter now, and a cadre of cellphones capture audio and video from the scene as the news is actually happening and is immediately posted on social media. The reality for newspapers is that no one is waiting for the morning paper to see what is happening in the world, and the expense of their transition to becoming digital providers of news that also encompases new elements such as audio and video while maintaining a legacy print operation is tremendous. Do people really distrust journalism because of perceived corporate greed, or because of the limitless amount of reporting from anyone with a cell phone that now deems themselves a journalist with no way to confirm their fact checking or credentials? Do people really distrust one news source over the other for fear of corporate oversight, or because the news outlet has a bias that is out of line with their own? Remember the countless pages of car ads in the paper? Gone to search. The classifieds? Gone to Craigslist. Two of the industry's biggest revenue streams reduced to a mere drip. Blockchain solves none of this, and I question those who rush to throw newspaper ownership under the bus as they truly make a paradigm shift to their business model. And no, I am not a corporate leader in a big newspaper nor have I ever been. Just calling it the way I see it. 

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