Creating an Independent Press Economy With a Blockchain
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is on its way to radically changing established industries, disrupting traditional business models, bringing old leaders down and bringing new leaders up.
The publishing industry is one of many that seem ripe for DLT-enabled change, and the new, DLT-oriented player PressCoin wants to lead that charge.
The New Normal
The internet has changed the publishing industry radically. Twenty years ago, readers used to purchase newspapers and magazines for quality content produced by professional journalists, analysts and editors. The publishing business model was a mixture of direct sales, subscriptions and advertising.
Today, printed newspapers and magazines are disappearing quickly, and consumers get news and opinions online, often through social media. Subscription-based business models are not really working at the moment. While there are interesting initiatives to change that, with Medium as an example, advertising is still considered as the only viable business model for online publishing.
In advertising-only business models, revenue is generated exclusively from ad clicks, which aren’t directly related to the quality of the content. If anything, it could be argued that a boring story makes it more likely for the reader to click an ad. Social media, and particularly Facebook, has become a fertile ground for fake news, which can spread like wildfire with socially (and even politically) dangerous results.
Large distributors like Facebook retain the lion’s share of the monetary rewards while producers — journalists and news organizations — do not benefit much. With money and reach comes power: Facebook, which allegedly might have played a non-marginal role in the last U.S. presidential elections, could be on its way to becoming a major political force.
Pressing for Change
A solution to the current digital publishing dynamic, proposed by the startup blockchain project PressCoin, is building an alternative, DLT-powered global media ecosystem, owned by the people and based on reputation. The PressCoin protocols want to capture the value generated by each user, and compensate it with PressCoin crypto tokens.
“More importantly, PressCoin platforms reward producers (journalists, citizens, NGOs, local news organizations, and local businesses) significantly with revenue and real asset ownership of the PressCoin ecosystem,” states the PressCoin summary. “This creates a sustainable foundation for independent journalism.”
The full PressCoin technical white paper states that PressCoin wants to reward value at every step of participation, for investors, entrepreneurs, editors, writers, producers, curators, commenters, readers, technologists, coders, inventors, users, subscribers and participants of all kinds. Unlike any other cryptocurrency token, PressCoin tokens represent a real share of the PressCoin company, based in the U.K.
According to the project’s website, “PressCoin tokens are unique. They’re equity-backed, so each token is linked via smart-contract with a share in U.K.-based PressCoin PLC. Each token is also eligible for dividends. PressCoin tokens are Coins done right, rewarding supporters with real, value-producing, asset-backed tokens.”
PressCoin is launching with a suite of five platforms for investigative intelligence (Insurge Intelligence, recently launched in beta); political polls and debates (Next Election); local affairs and news (Zolori); citizen journalism (Mojonomy); and positive, energizing “feel good” stories (ChickenSoup News). Then, the PressCoin platform will open up for existing or new media organizations to join the ecosystem through the PressCoin protocols.
The PressCoin platform will manage its ERC20-compatible NEWS tokens in the Ethereum blockchain. All participants’ contributions, interactions, engagement and influence in the PressCoin ecosystem will be recorded in the blockchain and weighted to calculate each user’s or node’s value to the overall system, in real-time. Smart contracts will interface NEWS wallets with external addresses such as exchanges or ETH wallets.
“Being backed by the shares of the PressCoin company itself, the token automatically increases in value as the revenue and traction gained by the platforms grows,” states the PressCoin white paper.