Civil Blockchain-Based Journalism Platform

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"It goes without saying that the journalism industry is facing immense challenges, from blatant attacks on press freedom to debilitating cuts in funding. One organization, Civil, plans on utilizing the blockchain to address the funding problem in a novel way. Civil does not aim to be the next Guardian or The New York Times. Instead, it will be offering a platform and a standard upon which high-quality journalistic newsrooms can exist and operate. Anyone may submit an application to start a virtual "newsroom" on the Civil platform by acquiring some amount of Civil's cryptographic coin — CVL — as a deposit, and following a set of ethical journalism guidelines laid out in the organization's constitution." (


Aaron Fernando of Shareable spoke with Matt Coolidge, co-founder of Civil:

  • Aaron Fernando, Shareable: Can you explain a little about what the blockchain can offer journalism and how Civil is taking advantage of this technology?

Matt Coolidge, Civil: Civil's mission is journalism. Blockchain emerged as a really compelling solution for helping to introduce a new model for sustainable journalism. Decentralization could potentially solve a lot of the core, fundamental issues plaguing journalism today, namely the struggle to translate from an ad-driven revenue model that sustained it so well for so long during print journalism’s reign. I think in digital environments, that's become prohibitively more difficult, and I think just separating substance from noise has been very difficult for a lot of publications. ... That is where the Civil "CVL" token comes in as a way to economically incentivize a high-quality marketplace for journalism. Specifically in Civil's initial iteration, we're focusing on local, international, investigative, and policy-focused journalism. The reason we picked those four pillars is really twofold: one, we want to have some sort of strategic focus and alignment initially so that we're not just all over the place.Two, we think that those are the most important beats within journalism just for uncovering really major, impactful stories that are also prohibitively difficult to fund, specially under this ad-driven model.

I think one of the more compelling features to the now more than 50 journalists that have committed already to running newsrooms on Civil is the idea of permanent archiving that blockchain introduces. Last fall, suddenly and quite unexpectedly (to all but a very select few) DNAinfo ceased operations just because its billionaire owner deemed that it was no longer a profitable line of business in his larger portfolio. With that decision, and the decision to just unplug the AWS server that was running it, both New York and Chicago lost seven to eight years of archives. There was a massive outcry. ... I think finally he relented to that pressure and put the archives back in. It was really an existential concern just about the vulnerability of archives. One of the core functions of Civil is going to be able to write the text of your article permanently to decentralized environments in which it will be stored and nearly impossible to alter in the future." (