Former Denver Post reporters and editors plan to launch a new local media outlet in partnership with ConsenSys-backed blockchain startup Civil Media Company.
According to The New York Times, the group left The Denver Post to create a new local state online newspaper, The Colorado Sun, after newsroom layoffs and deteriorating morale following newspaper’s change in ownership. New York hedge fund Alden Global Capital took control of The Denver Post after acquiring its parent company, MediaNews Group, and manages it through a subsidiary, Digital First Media.
The Colorado Sun will use blockchain technology via Civil to store data, with initial funding via a grant from Civil, the Times reports. Once the new outlet is up-and-running, The Colorado Sun intends to be “a community-supported, journalist-owned team focused on investigative, explanatory and narrative journalism for a state in the midst of a massive evolution,” and will be completely ad-free, according to the company’s website.
Currently, there is a Kickstarter Campaign for the emerging outlet, which hopes to raise $75,000 in a month. A statement on the campaign page implies that the new outlet will be subscription based, as well as relying on “local supporters” to keep the platform free of advertising.
The Sun’s reporters and editors are the “A-Team of A-Teams,” said former Post reporter, now Colorado Sun staffer, Jason Blevins. “And when they come knocking, you answer the door.” The debut staff includes Blevins as well as reporters John Ingold, Kevin Simpson, Tamara Chuang and Jennifer Brown; editors Ryckman and Dana Coffield and web developer Eric Lubbers — all former Post stalwarts who have signed on with the startup venture.
What The Critics Have To Say?
However, there is a catch in their business model. Like Steemit, this cannot incentivize production long term unless it has more efficient means of monetization, which it doesn’t. Steem subsidizes content through inflation of a token during a speculative mania. To put it mildly, this is not sustainable. Though the founders did astonishingly well on their exit.
Putting a newspaper on a blockchain, to the extent the idea is even coherent, does not exempt it from the economics that makes journalism unremunerative. This is not to say that we cannot use cryptocurrencies to perform activities that were traditionally performed by journalists.
This will look more like anonymous information bounty markets or prediction markets. But even prediction markets need someone to subsidize them, willfully taking a loss to provide liquidity. I think there is a good case to be made for using demurrage to do this. But for this to work there has to be actual long-term economic value on the blockchain, which most lack.
The announcement says,
“People who purchase the CVL token, a form of cryptocurrency, will have a say concerning the projects hosted by Civil.”
This means that they can vote on whether one of its websites violates the company’s journalism standards, which are outlined in the Civil Constitution. Letting token owners “vote on whether…websites violate the company’s journalism standards” explicitly removes editorial independence. Worse, it ties editorial control to tokens/votes which are bought with money.