Blockchain Journalism Startup Civil Strikes Deal With The Associated Press
Blockchain journalism startup Civil Media Company has agreed to a two-part deal with American news agency The Associated Press (AP). The agreement will include distribution of the AP’s content through Civil’s network of newsrooms and a partnership between the two firms to work together on blockchain-based technology to enforce media licensing rights.
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Civil and AP to Work Together on Blockchain Project for Journalism
The Associated Press, one of the largest news agencies in the United States, will license its content to the 14 newsrooms that are part of the network that Civil is in the process of developing. Civil, which received $5 million USD in funding from Ethereum venture studio ConsenSys in 2017, is creating a decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism. Details of the deal were posted on Civil’s blog.
The arrangement will give the AP access to the readers of Civil’s newsrooms, several of which are staffed by veteran journalists and are already publishing content. The two companies will work together to build a system that will allow newsrooms to store records about their content on Ethereum’s blockchain and also enforce licensing rights using smart contracts.
Jim Kennedy, AP’s senior vice president for Strategy and Enterprise Development, told Digiday that online news content is easy for third-parties to copy and use for misinformation and that Civil’s technology could provide a solution. He also said in a statement that:
“AP has been pushing into new digital territory for more than two decades, and Civil is opening up another new space with interesting technology to explore and a commitment to good journalism.”
Matthew Iles, the CEO and Co-founder of Civil, said that the company was planning to have a product ready in three months, and that Civil newsrooms would have a free copy of it.
Publishing on Ethereum — The Promise of Blockchain Journalism
Civil has been working on technology that will allow for news content to be stored on a blockchain. In a blog post, Civil described how it plans to store records of news articles using Ethereum. Essentially, Civil newsrooms will have a custom content management system (CMS) that can automatically add a record to the Ethereum blockchain of when an article was published, who the author is, and a link to a Civil-managed data server, where the article will be stored.
The full text of articles can also be stored on Ethereum’s blockchain using Civil’s software. This method was made famous by Yue Xin, a Chinese student at Peking University, who used Ethereum to publish an open letter about an alleged decades-old sexual assault of a university student by a professor at the university.
Her letter, which described the pressure she received from university authorities after submitting a freedom of information request about the former student, was quickly removed from Chinese social media networks. In response to the censorship, Xin published the letter in an Ethereum transaction (it can be seen by choosing to view the content as UTF-8). The May censorship scandal at The Denver Post further demonstrates some of the benefits of blockchain journalism.
Civil Looking to Create Products for Third Parties, Holding ICO
Though the Ethereum publishing system was originally designed for use by Civil newsrooms, with the AP deal it appears that it could also be used by other media organizations. Civil has several divisions, including a for-profit entity called Civil Labs, which intends to develop software and tools for commercial usage. There is also a division called Civil Studios, a kind of venture fund which will assist in producing media projects like podcasts and documentaries.
In July, Singapore-based media startup Splice announced that it would be managing a $1 million fund that was set up by Civil. The fund will be used to finance 100 media projects in Asia over the next three years. The money came out of the $5 million that Civil raised from ConsenSys last year. In addition to ConsenSys, Civil is also backed by Old Town Media, a media startup founded by veteran journalists Tom McGeveran, Josh Benson, and Katherine Lehr.
Civil will also be holding an ICO on September 18th to raise funds for the company, and the AP will receive some of the CVL tokens issued during the sale.
Have your say. What do you make of the idea of blockchain journalism? Is this a positive step forward for both blockchain technology and journalism?
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