MARKNetwork Blockchain: Use Case News Media

Will Blockchain address the burning issues for news media?

Short summary of the article:

“Do not get left behind”

»Shutdown of New Media houses and rising “Fake News” propaganda in the ecosystem is becoming a matter of international concern. How does blockchain solutions empower the objective journalism again? «


Way back in 1950s, news media was the most trusted institution in America. Journalists were considered as defenders of public interest and democracy. More than 66% of the American’s trusted that newspaper was a fair source of information. As the news industry fragmented, public trust in news outlets declined to 45% in 2008. Further proliferation of media channels dropped the numbers to 32% in 2016.

Objective Journalism was steadily replaced by partisan and tabloid-oriented journalism.

During 2016 Presidential Election became associated with terms like post-truth and alternative-facts. It was 2017 when the rumbles of ‘Fake news’ became a point of rising concern in the socio-political arena. The propagation of misinformation, building propaganda, and polarizing news content has been around since decades but with the digitization of news media, the expanse of spread and the damage has magnified.

The traditional news media is getting labeled as corrupt muckrakers, crony journalists, and partisanship. The major blow to the integrity of journalism came from the social media territory. As per the latest stats around 44% of the American millennials engage in latest news via channels like Facebook which is facing quite some heat after Russian power used fake accounts by spending $100,000 for political advertising that influenced a key election.

To combat the impact, Facebook launched its own Journalism Project to curate and fact-check the spread of new feed. With all the social media and search engines like Google tightening the defenses, the sustenance and revenue-driving pressure on traditional media platforms are significant. From January 2017 to April 2018, almost 23% of the digital native news outlets experienced layoffs, which means the major decline of news media is quickly underway. The economic distress is growing across the new outlets. In 2017 US Senate proposed a bill to contain the political advertising over digital news media. UK parliament investigated the impact of ‘fake news’ on Brexit referendum but the action was taken only in Germany where the new law levies fines upto €50m on tech sites if any political partisanship is sensed.

Tech-driven initiatives like blockchain target to remove the news platform monopolies which is catalyzing the everyday challenges news media is facing.

News integrity

Traditional media considers the power of platforms as the biggest threat to their existence. In a survey conducted by Reuter’s around 21% of the news publishers established this fact. The rest had a divided opinion but the prime two contributors to the chaos were resistant to change and the inability to innovate. Media houses have been labeled for misquoting, misleading narratives, and putting up fake news. The entire ecosystem is missing fact-checking, transparency of the source of news and news literacy.

In 2016 things went worse and demanded a serious investigation. Right in the middle of 2016, Craig Silverman, Buzzfeed’s media editor brought it to attention that excessive amounts of fabricated stories were infesting digital news and all seemed to be originating from Eastern European town, Veles. After some concrete actions, it was unearthed that 140 fake news websites were running in the town which was generating a lot of traction on Facebook.

Such incidents have left the new media houses alarmed about the declining situation. Trust is at an all-time low. Blockchain promises to create and maintain the integrity of the news. Innovation is required to make it happen. Projects like Sapien are working aggressively to shift consumer confidence into news media. The idea behind the project is to offer a unified platform to create trustworthy high-quality content. The contributors receive ERC20 SPN tokens as incentives for creating democratic news which will combat the “Fake News” issues.

Encouraging Subscription models

The mainstream media has been looking forward to taking back control. Since a decade the traditional media has been playing the game of platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Over the years, the fact has been established that this kind of collaboration exposes media houses to risks without a significant contribution to revenue.

But the times are changing, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report, US alone exhibited a 7% increase in direct subscriptions indicating readers are ready to pay for news which is far from fake. The stats from The Guardian also fortify the increasing trend in reader subscriptions which is generating more revenues as opposed to relying on the revenue from advertising alone.

The impact of alternate platforms on revenues of pure media channels has been aggrieving. The tech site Mashable was sold for $50m to CNN in 2017 as the site was not able to meet advertising targets and by end of Q-3 2017 had accumulated losses worth $4.2 million. Many new outlets relied on social media platforms, advertising revenues, and corporate backing to keep the lamps burning. As the times changed, these entities witnessed significant adversity leading to shutdowns.

As per Reuters Reports, the shift to subscription has been significant as the Washington Post almost doubled its subscriptions in 2017. These channels seem to have been sensitized by the growing popularity of subscription-based models like Netflix.

The news media ecosystem is yearning for a potential solution that could make subscribing instant, secure and trustless so that their hands are no more tied because of corporate sponsors and advertisers. Blockchain promises a fundraising opportunity to independent journalists who still believe in creating high-quality news. A subscription-based model is easy to develop on blockchain where true autonomy can be achieved. It targets to bring readers and new producers together to promote direct readership.

The promising projects like Loop Network are a panacea to the challenges the ecosystem is facing. As a blockchain-powered platform, it also uses AI algorithms to assess the credibility of the news provided by the contributor. Based on the readership engagement and rating, the contributor is incentivized. It is the perfect decentralization platform where AI will assist to promote objective journalism.

Tokenized Readership

Shifting the revenue strategy from ads engagement to alternate channels is not a simple change. The publishers are forced to revisit how the content will be created and how the audiences will be targeted. We talked about the blockchain based subscription models that would engage readers and contributors directly but there should be more incentives for the readers too. According to New York Times CEO Mark Thompson, the newspaper groups and venture capital funded players need to change their approach towards readers so that their news is being consumed. As per a survey, 16% of the news outlets are in favor of providing membership benefits. But there is a lot more required to encourage new literacy for a particular platform.

In the mainstream news ecosystem attempts are being made by countries like Switzerland to scrap the broadcasting fees for news but till that materializes and reshapes the news media landscape, the outlets need to generate revenue for survival. As per Reuters News Media report, 58% of publishers involved in the survey believe having a registered user base is important to build deeper relationships. Tokenized readership using blockchain is a highly promising solution to build long-term and bigger group audiences who receive crypto tokens for the news they read and share.

Project Paperchain is a blockchain based digital media platform which helps build tokenized payment solutions to contributors and readers. The liquidation and payouts are easy on Paperchain as it uses the tokens.


Journalism is not all about big media houses. Most of the news publications on digital media are small organization treading on financial waters. If the economic crises continue, these digital news agencies will be washed out. Currently, there are millions of news websites and the count is growing aggressively as you read through this article.

These websites cover their expense from the micropayments they generate per news or article basis. But due to the sluggish payment system either the micropayments get delayed or succumb to remittance fee. Blockchain comes as a perfect solution to these challenges as it can process the micropayment efficiently and almost instantly.

Project Narrative is a blockchain initiative that is redefining how contributor groups or individuals are being compensated in a better and refined manner.

News Permanency

The story of news permanency has been no different in the past when the newspapers were printed and nothing much has improved despite the news going digital. The Libraries in Latin American and Caribbean’s comprise of more than 10 million printed books, journals, and newspapers. It is the largest collection of such old manuscripts but the problem is that in case of a natural calamity all will be lost.

The same scenario holds true for the digital Media like Gothamist and DNA Info that had to shut down their operations and all the new data on their servers was speculated to be lost forever. Such situations have threatened contributors as all of their work credibility is dependent on these platforms.

The blockchain if used for storing the news, ensures permanent record maintenance in a decentralized, transparent and secure manner. It ensures the permanency of the digital news data for the contributors who chose to use blockchain. A slight variant of the use case is the BitRights project. It offers enterprise and individual creators to register the digital content they developed on the blockchain. All the data is stored with ownership rights, licensing details and timestamp that ensures the highest level of security to such digital assets and promises permanency.

To wrap

The news media ecosystem is in need of a blockchain based compelling platform that brings readers and contributors closer in a trustless manner so that the challenges of existence and readership news literacy are addressed. MARKNetwork is assisting enterprises of any scale with customized blockchain solutions to overcome mundane challenges of the times.

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