media update’s Jenna Cook explores how blockchain technology will benefit journalists.

Blockchain is the technology that is usually linked to crypto currencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, more and more applications of this technology are proving that it’s not solely useful in the financial industry.

Blockchain can easily partner with journalism – but to understand how this collaboration would work, it’s important to have a good idea of what blockchain is.

What exactly is blockchain?

Blockchain is a digital list of every transaction that takes place on it’s network. These blocks are distributed across a network of computers all around the world – making the network decentralized and virtually unhackable. It’s expected to play a very big role in the way that information is created, stored and protected.

Now that you know how blockchain works, it’ll be easier to understand why journalism needs it and how it can be applied to the media industry.

Why does journalism need saving?

Journalism is an industry that survives by funding from the public or by advertisers. And, it has long been weighing these two options.

Publications have two choices when it comes to funding their operations; use paywalls or rely on advertising. However, paywalls are only plausible when publications have large, dedicated readerships, and few things are more distracting than pop-up ads on an article. This can mean that often, the advertising route isn’t the most ideal.

It would seem that the media industry is caught in a catch-22 where they need readers to make a contribution to their publication in order to keep their content afloat but to get readers, they need to make their content freely available.

So where does blockchain come in?

The idea is to create a sustainable marketplace for journalism – and blockchain can assist with exactly that.

Matthew Iles, CEO of crypto startup company Civil, says, “Leveraging blockchain technology and cryptoeconomics will create a platform for a free and independent press – where there’s only journalists and citizens involved and no advertising in the business model.”

Blockchain could allow publications to set up a system where readers can make micro-payments for every article they read.

“Everyone paying a fraction of a penny for every article they read has long been thought of as the holy grail for online journalism,” says Nicky Woolf in his article, What Could Blockchain Do for Journalism?

How will this change journalism as we know it?

Blockchain will have many benefits for the media industry, including allowing publishers to have more control over where and how their content is utilised.

“What this all boils [down] to is [it allows] content creators to be able to get credit for work wherever it’s published, more efficiently track the chain of value and ensure people are getting name credit and compensation,” continues Iles.

The Internet can make tracking content very difficult. There are no set rules to tell exactly how many different ways the content has been consumed because of how easy it is to cut and paste work.

Using blockchain, publishers and journalists will be able to license their work, and track it down more easily when it’s used without their permission.

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More and more journalists are pushing the boundaries of traditional storytelling. And while there are many things changing in the world of reporting, there are few trends making a major impact on the industry already. Read more in our article, Five innovations that are shaping journalism in 2018.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy