"At a time when the journalism industry is struggling to stay afloat, Civil It proposes a radically new solution for sustainability: a global network formed by independent newsrooms and by those that support them, of cooperative ownership ". This is how this platform is presented, created under the umbrella of the blockchain company ConsenSys, led by the co-founder of the cryptocurrency Ethereum, Joseph Lubin.
It is not true that there is no money in the newspaper industry, the problem is that it is concentrated in a few technology companies. "
"Civil was born to face the problems of ownership and current distribution model of the media," said Matt Coolidge, co-founder of Civil, during the presentation of the platform at the BBVA Innovation Center in Madrid. "It is not true that there is no money in the newspaper industry, the problem is that it is concentrated in a few technology companies, especially Google and Facebook," he added. On its platform, says Coolidge, this is avoided with a circular economy model where the benefits are aimed at improving the user experience.
Civil is a network of news organizations, large and small, aligned to a new business model based on cryptocurrency. Its goal is to add a total of 1,000 essays in the first year. So far, they have a little over twenty - based in the United States and Latin America - of journalists from publications such as The New York Times, The New Yorker, LA Times, Denver Post, NYT or Politico.
One of those essays is Colorado Sun, created - with the support of Civil - by a team of journalists from the Denver Post, including the Pulitzer Dana Coffield prize. "Colorado needs us. Hundreds of jobs in the world of journalism have disappeared in the last 10 years, which translates into many untold stories, crimes and crimes not exposed, powerful uncontrolled and good unrecognized people, "assures EL PAÍS RETINA Larry Ryckman, director of this new medium.
Why did you decide to ally with Civil? "He was an ideal partner, since he wants to serve as a platform, not as an editor. That is, it has no voice over the content, "he says. In addition, it has provided funds and also technical and commercial support to help them take off, something that Civil offers as an incentive to the entrepreneurs who join with the platform to create their media. Both they and the rest of newsrooms that join Civil must invest at least $ 1000 in tokens CVL for the governance of the platform.
Ryckman highlights some of the blockchain advantages for the media: "It provides great security for our content, ensures greater transparency for us and our readers and facilitates that these can directly support Colorado Sun and its journalists, "he says. In addition, he believes that the chain of blocks will be particularly important for reporters in other parts of the world where governments may be tempted to shut down servers and punish them.
The news agency has also joined the network Associated Press (AP), which will deliver its content to Civil so that the wording of the ecosystem can access it directly. Blockchain allows AP to solve a problem that has not yet been solved: the traceability of its information to know how it is disseminated and guarantee that copyright is fulfilled. With this system of proven identity and authorship it is possible to know to whom each published content belongs.
According to Úrsula O'Kuinghttons, responsible for Civil in Spain, Civil tries to deintermediate, adapt journalism to the new times and reinvent its business model. Blockchain allows, for example, to have a smart contract license terms: rights and duration of automatically executable terms, together with a better tracking of use on the web.
"We try to be the first consumer blockchain application with impact. We do not aspire to become rich but to be useful, "says Coolidge. That is why it emphasizes the fact that Civil is an ecosystem and that its main value is access to it, facilitating collaborations between newsrooms to, for example, conduct journalistic investigations. The platform also integrates processes gamification, through challenges that offer rewards for uploading quality content.
But what Coolidge highlights as "really different and unique" from Civil is the fact that his control is represented by the ownership of the CVL tokens. "We must clarify that, leaving aside the initial investment of $ 1,000, neither the newsrooms that are in Civil nor its clients have to operate in cryptocurrency. He expects, however, that in the future more and more transactions will be carried out using CVL currencies. The co-founder of Civil says they are not trying to invent the wheel but to introduce a new economic model that adds incentives.
Another strong point of Civil are the incentives for ethical behavior. To be part of the network, each wording must sign the 'Constitution'Or code of conduct of the platform, designed to guarantee the reliability of its contents and to reward quality discourse in the community. "It means sending a very powerful message to your readers that you are taking your job very seriously," says Coolidge.
This code describes the standards and rules of self-government. It is made up of a board of international experts such as Matt Thompson, editor of Atlantic Magazine; Emily Bell, professor at Columbia University; Sue Gadner, former director of the Wikimedia Foundation; Elen Goodman, professor at Rutgers University; Maria Ressa, director of Rappler or Javier Moreno, editor of The Country America.
Civil also has other associated legs, such as an innovation laboratory or a Foundation, led by the renowned Vivian Schiller, former president and executive director of the National Public Radio of the USA, former director of the digital area in NBC News, former regional director of NYTimes.com and former global director of journalistic associations on Twitter, among other positions. Its focus will be on editorials that give voice to invisible collectives, to ensure compliance with the Constitution by the newsrooms and to ensure a democratic system in the Civil ecosystem.