Can Blockchain Save Media?

At no other time in human history has information been flowing or rather overflowing as abundantly as it has now. Compared to earlier decades, however, trust in the veracity of news media worldwide has progressed in the reverse direction.

According to Statista, the most recent 2019 worldwide surveys indicate media trust scores of only 22% - 59%. Finland, Portugal, and Denmark lead while South Korea, France, and Greece ranked the lowest. Of the 37 countries surveyed, the U.S. registered the seventh-worst score at 32% behind countries like Slovakia at 33% and Romania at 35%.

If, indeed, it is the truth that will set you free, how important is it then to reverse such a worrying trend in mediums of global mass communication?

Technology Answers the Call

First used as the backbone technology of Bitcoin, blockchain proponents have pointed to the decentralized and immutable nature of the technology to provide solutions in areas where transparency and authenticity are of paramount importance. 

News media unmistakably fits the shoe. Perhaps the top arenas where the issue of trustworthiness are most pressing would inevitably be that of media in politics and finance. While enterprise use cases such as those in supply chain and logistics are undoubtedly important, the stakes are obviously higher, with far-reaching consequences, when it comes to controlling the narrative in politics and economics.

Mainstream media outlets have already jumped on the blockchain bandwagon. Under its News Provenance Project,  The New York Times is using Hyperledger Fabric permissioned blockchain to guarantee the provenance of digital files, starting first with image and video files.  Through Civil, a blockchain journalism network, Forbes is publishing stories on the blockchain, where the information cannot be altered by third parties.

Blockchain Needed for Bitcoin News

Fake news promoting fictional claims has been particularly rampant in the new economy of cryptocurrencies. This sector actually represents a strong use case for a decentralized platform in crypto news media, a somewhat ironic situation given that it is the self-same decentralized technology that gave rise to the entire cryptocurrency industry in the first place.

At the recent Medialogue, organized by Blockshow Asia, high-profile crypto journalists and media representatives convened to discuss the high incidences of scam projects promoted in industry media as well as best practices to adopt to maintain high standards of journalism.

While ads and sponsored content were a "necessary evil" for media publications to survive, attendees concluded that the entire ecosystem of crypto media had to be held accountable and due diligence conducted. This would include projects, PR agencies, and crypto media.

While traditional finance media use Bloomberg Terminal or Thomson Reuters Eikon for finance news, data, and in-depth research, the subscription pricing for such services might prove to be unrealistic for the crypto community in general. 

Blockchain-based technology solutions such as Modex might be able to offer more viable alternatives. DLT's (Decentralized Ledger Technology) can allow information suppliers to publish information in exchange for a tamper-proof record of identity to be stored on the blockchain. Issues of transparency, reliability, and traceability of news can be addressed, and the integrity of news and other multimedia content can be preserved.

As Ben Goetzel, SingularityNET CEO, puts it, "Economics and ethics can go together thanks to decentralization."

But before signing off on the technology, it might be prudent to point out some of the challenges associated with the technology - namely excessive energy use and scalability. Blockchain naysayers have been quick to write off the technology based on these alone. As with nascent technologies, it is an ongoing development, and the good news is that faster and more energy-efficient consensus networks are consistently being developed on the market.