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A Blockchain-Based Ecosystem of Micropayments in Journalism

The media, particularly the online outlets, lose billions of money annually through uncollected revenues. For every article or image a journalist releases, there should be financial return, unless the journalist is by choice working for free. An ecosystem of micropayments based on the Blockchain in which everyone who reads an article pays a fraction of a dollar for each article read can help solve this challenge to a great extent. This has always looked like daydreaming until Blockchain came our way.

Blockchain can create chains of authenticity in the Media industry making it possible for readers to authenticate news and for every journalist to earn an income for their articles. I foresee a future where the revenues in online news outlets will triple as a result of Blockchain adoption in the industry. The micro-payment ecosystem was not possible before Blockchain was widely adopted that’s why I consider it a breakthrough for journalists; at last, there is a solution to funding journalism.

A new payment model called micro-tipping which makes it possible for journalists to receive tips easily from readers at the click of a button, has also raised hopes about bridging the gap of funding in journalism. Such tipping avenues can allow readers and even commenters to receive tips from people around the world thus indirectly financing their projects. Sustainable journalism is the talk in recent debates about media and journalism, and there are a number of Blockchain projects that could transform journalism and guarantee sustainability.

Civil, a project of ConsenSys, is one of those projects. I will discuss this further in the subsequent sections. The click-based advertisement revenues are not sufficient to sustain journalism. These click-based ads which use clickbait also reduce the quality of news and somehow water down the experience of online readers. Imagine clicking a button and it leads you to new tabs of a product advertisement you have no interest in, when all you wanted was news. Something has to be done to preserve the quality of news and for the survival of the online news outlets.

Major publishers such as The New York Times have shown great interest in micropayment models as a new major revenue stream. Recently in 2018, CoinDesk entered a partnership with Brave – a bitcoin-powered browser. The idea behind Brave is to create a cross-platform micro-payment system for any news content. Cryptocurrencies can also be a good avenue for raising funds in Media and Journalism.

Blockchain-based digital tokens that are customized for specific media platforms can be issued and traded to raise funds, grant readers privileged access to high-value premium contents, and reward audience activity and engagement. This is a bright one, trust me, it can increase interest in journalism more than ever before. Imagine reading an article then receiving a cryptocurrency into your wallet as reward? I don’t know about you, but I can’t say no to that. There are Blockchain enthusiasts and bloggers around the world who are already bracing the challenge to change the narrative of journalism by creating customized crypto tokens.

A good example is Koji Higashi, who is the author of Coin And Peace, a blog written in Japanese. Using Counterparty Blockchain protocol, Higashi has created a customized token for the blog, called CNPCoin. He is distributing the coin in form of tokens to loyal readers who share his links on the social media platforms and comment on his blogs. This is what Higashi had to say about his new CNPCoin:

Say I write an article, update my blog and tweet about it. If someone retweets it I follow and say, ‘You retweeted my article – if you can create a Counterparty wallet and tell me your address, I can give you X amount of my coin.’” —Koji Higashi, creator of CNPCoin, in CoinDesk, 2017

So, you can see Blockchain has brought about new feasible avenues through which journalists can raise funds and finance their sustainability. Look at the story of Higashi, just by customizing a coin he could now raise funds in a whole new way he had never imagined. He actually confessed to have received a tip of 1BTC from one of his readers in a system where he would give readers the CNPCoin if they tipped him with Bitcoins. Now, if you have been in the Crypto space for a while you know that 1 BTC is not small money.

Another good example of the use of crypto tokens to raise funds is the story of LTBCoin. The coin was founded by Adam B. Levine, CEO of Tokenly and the man behind the Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast. The coin was created and distributed in 2014 to participants and contributors of the LTB network. New LTBCoins are created when participants and distributors are rewarded for commenting, podcasting, and participating in Let’s Talk Bitcoin forums. If you’ve understood how Bitcoin works, you know new coins are created through mining.

In LTBCoins there is no mining; coins are created through a different reward system that promotes the activities of the podcast. New LTBCoins are created every week to an upper limit of 560 million coins over a period of 260 weeks. According to Levine’s experience as shared on CoinDesk, he learned that it is hard to make people value something when they are used to getting it for free. The use of tokens for news items will make people place value on news and allow online news outlets to earn from their hard labour.

This is what Levine had to say about the LTBCoin:

“At first we couldn’t do e-commerce with it, we couldn’t do anything with it…Over time, that’s what I’ve spent the last several years of my life doing, building out the infrastructure and the different end user applications that you can easily make tokens valuable in.” —Adam Levine, creator of LTBCoin, to CoinDesk, 2017

These success stories are a good indication that tokens can be used to increase cash inflows in the media industry. It is a whole new way and I believe more projects will be initiated to support the idea of tokenization, just like the CVL tokens riding on the Blockchain-based Journalism platform Civil.

Betty Wanjiru,

Betty’s Place, Nyeri

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