Request a free site audit

Interested in offering ad free site memberships?

Life news: I got a dog


Blockchain for news organizations – which problem to solve

I blogged the other day about blockchain for news and wanted to acknowledge that I’m hardly the first to have this idea. Mathewi posted yesterday about a group that’s using Ethereum to create a marketplace around content. There’s also SteemIt, which uses the blockchain as the content store.

I wanted to take another 5 minutes to identify the problem space here, and identify which I believe is most ripe for blockchain application.

Business models first. Clearly there’s work to be done here, but the blockchain complicates these efforts for the time being. It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see mass consumer participation in… this.

Fundamentally, citizens will join Civil because they want to engage with good journalism, and the CVL token is their key.

I think tokens will emerge in very specific contexts first, and we may be a decade out from being able to explain this paradigm to our parents. I’m also highly biased against any revenue model that’s more complicated than advertising or cash for service/product.

Content storage second. STEEM uses the blockchain to store content but content storage isn’t the problem, at least it’s never been for me. And as the site’s content quality problem illustrates, if the goal is to represent the value of content contributions in the blockchain, you have to expand your measurement approach to prevent malicious actors from gaming the system.

Capital/equity third. I think this is THE problem the blockchain is uniquely positioned to solve. I’m not a socialist but I take a cynical view on das kapital. Why do you think digital newsrooms are organizing? Folks, your digital wiz kids aren’t dumb. They understand that your new media empire rose on the backs of their memes. They’ve just got no better option, hence organizing. But as a one-time founder and a longtime laborer, I am excited by what the blockchain could mean for organizational equity! Rather than a static term sheet that’s capitalized periodically, the blockchain gives us a dynamic method of valuing and subdividing the entity. There’s something noble in the idea that everyone’s an owner in the organization. As a matter of fact, in a former life I had advised a certain local media executive to build staff equity into the funding plan for a media startup. To the best of my knowledge, that didn’t happen. Which scares me a bit! I really don’t want to be complicit in building the next Gannett (unless I’m Frank in the endeavor) and the best strategy I see against that is keeping a good deal of individual outlet equity owned locally and by public-minded individuals. Plus, we could still offer an Initial Coin/Token Offering that gives us some quick access to cash.

Disagree with me? Would love to know why – hit those comments!




Did you enjoy this post?

Signup to receive a weekly email containing my new posts, curated links, and book reviews.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.


Follow me on Twitter

Less, More, and None

My friend Ethan shared his Less, More, and None list (inspired by Jacoby Young). Cool idea, thought I’d give it a try. Always good to remind yourself of your better aspirations.

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

Notes on dynamic meters

Notes on newsletters

Notes on the membership model for news


Capturing Shawmont Station before its $1,000,000 preservation begins – the oldest extant passenger rail station in America

Originally a 18′ by 36′ stone house (Wissahickon Schist), the structure wouldn’t have stood out from the other country homes in this part of Philadelphia, at the tip of the Manayunk Reach, situated at the end of today’s Manayunk Canal Towpath.

Testing WordPress Gutenberg on a high volume news site

Water, sand, and societal change

The best restaurant? Matunuck Oyster Bar

Does Perry Raso run the best restaurant? Yes, I think he does.

EverQuote and patent medicine

In a thread begun October 2016, Washington Post technology director Aram Zucker-Scharff tweeted about the shady advertising practices of EverQuote, a Boston-based startup. Since then these ads have become prolific on the web (and nearly as prolific are Aram’s tweets documenting the malfeasance).

Lenfest Institute and Digital First Media?

What if Alden let another organization manage its newspaper assets as a blind trust? It would lose a great deal of flexibility in using DFM assets to leverage other companies it owns, but it would be able to wash its hands of the growing public relations crisis. Furthermore, it would give space for the strategic direction of DFM to be explored and pursued without the added baggage of hedge fund cross-percolation.

Receive a weekly email with newly posted content

  • About one email per week
  • Includes original posts, curated links, and book reviews

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Send this to a friend