New York’s prestigious Columbia University has been examining blockchain and its impact on the world of journalism.

In the most recent edition of the University’s Columbia Journalism Review, a report on the events of its most recent panel discussion entitled ‘Blockchain in Journalism: Promise and Practice’ outlined its findings.

The panel was held at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism, part of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The Tow Center explores the ways in which technology is changing journalism, its practice and its consumption – particularly as consumers of news seek ways to judge the reliability, standards and credibility of information.

The 19 October panel included important players in both blockchain and journalism including Civil Foundation CEO Vivian Schiller and ZigZag podcast’s Manoush Zomorodi. Also attending were Columbia researcher Eran Tromer, Forbes head of Product & Tech Salah Zalatimo, New York Times researcher Nellie Bowles Po.et CEO Jarrod Dicker.

The panel agreed that central to blockchain’s success in the field of journalism were three areas offering the greatest challenge, with the greatest being to differentiate between cryptocurrency and DLT. The former still offered resistance in the eyes of the general public due to a general lack of knowledge. The stigma of crypto is still there to be overcome, including public fears of volatility and its past connections with criminal activity.

In the same way as cryptocurrency, blockchain suffers from the same dearth of available information to the public regarding its workings and numerous applications across sectors including journalism, despite already making impact in that area. However, flawed designs were identified by the panel, such as “Nieman Lab’s John Keefe calculating that it takes 44 steps to purchase CVL, the token that powers Civil”.

The panelists felt these factors were enough to cast a degree of muted optimism over journalism’s future unless they were addressed as the industry moved forward with further blockchain solutions.

Civil recently announced that it was casting its eye on the Asian news market and, as a result, the company has raised USD 1 million to create 100 media projects there over the next three years. In order to facilitate its ambitious plans in Asia, the company has teamed with Splice, a Singapore-based media startup, which will manage the new fund.

 

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