The following is a guest post by Brandon Kostinuk.
Can blockchain technology restore faith in U.S. political journalism? A pair of New Jersey entrepreneurs are betting it can.
Samit Singh and Dondrey Taylor believe blockchain, the encryption software that underlays digital currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, can be used to create a system of incentivized citizen journalism to cover and disseminate political news.
By using the blockchain, Singh and Taylor are able to create a decentralized platform for writing, editing and publishing and to generate their own digital currency to reward writers and editors.
Their Decentralized News Network pushes back against mass media inaccuracies and political agendas in story reporting by using so-called smart contracts and the online community’s combined news judgement. The blockchain also provides a ready-made digital remuneration system to vaccinate DNN against unwanted influence from advertisers or other corporate interests.
“The hope is our system can bring back some faith and trust in a political news medium,” said Singh, a graduate of Penn State’s business finance program and DNN’s CEO.
It’s not farfetched to call DNN a more democratic model of political news dissemination, he said.
The DNN platform automates the publishing process through so-called smart contracts, incentivizing writers, editors and readers to act according to principles and guidelines set by the blockchain-based system’s protocols.
“The best way to think about it, is to think of smart contracts as a set of instructions carried out by a network of trustless computers that all agree on the completion and state of these instructions,” said Taylor, CTO at DNN. “For DNN, network smart contracts carry out the review process and issuance and management of token balances to all involved parties.”
The system will be a fully decentralized political news platform that incentivizes writers to submit political news articles, which will then be reviewed by a community of fact-checkers.
“Fact-checkers — we call them reviewers — validate or reject articles based on our editorial guidelines, before they get published for our readers. Writers and reviewers are rewarded with digital tokens,” said Taylor.
But a key factor is decentralized authority, which helps wash away any sentiment of corporate centralization. However, that just skims the surface of the added benefit the blockchain-based platform generates: time-stamped blocks of data, an open publishing process, no single authority with global reach, and peer-to-peer validation in a community financed system, to name a select handful.
With the capacity to decentralize authority and to publish news in time-stamped blocks of data, the Decentralized News Network can improve how news is reported and received. It will usher in peak transparency and a virtually unstoppable path to publication for a community to consume, at their fingertips, through a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Readers will be able to determine who wrote what, at what time and who approved the article in order for the content to reach the network.
Furthermore, the incentivized system, powered by the Ethereum blockchain, establishes the necessary checks and balances to ensure a democratic review process supported by monetary rewards.
“As a reader, or a writer or a reviewer, you get rewarded for your effort on the network,” said Singh, adding the approval of articles will align with preset editorial guidelines, which are currently being vetted by seasoned and experienced journalists and editors.
DNN will offer the most transparent publishing framework for online media to date, with blockchain technology lying at the core of this innovation, Taylor said.
Through blockchain technology, the DNN community becomes the gatekeeper, not some news media corporation.
“This is an exciting era whereby trust in what’s disseminated rests on automated protocols in a system accessible by anyone with just a little bit of DNN tokens,” Taylor said.