New York Times editor Dean Baquet very publicly predicted that most local newspapers will die in the next five years.
He went on to say the economic model is gone and the only ones that will survive are the ones that are bought by billionaires.
In the United States, 30,000 newspaper jobs have disappeared which amounts to about 60% industrywide according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And news revenue has plunged by $30 billion between 2006 and 2017.
So what’s the answer? Can journalism and news outlets be saved?
The answer may lie in a new digital technology that is only now beginning to emerge.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency shook the world of finance, but the newest iteration called NFTs is making twice the impact, even in its infancy.
An NFT or non-fungible token is a string of unique codes meant to be paired with an asset or item. The product is a token stored using blockchain technology and can't be exchanged for anything else.
It works because NFTs are associated with anything of value, including digital assets and physical (real-world) objects. For some reason, these NFTs are coveted by people, and they're willing to pay a hefty price for it. A collage created by an American digital artist fetched almost $70 million, while rare NBA game photos and clips are sold in six figures. Twitter's first-ever tweet was sold for $2.9 million.
What's the common denominator for these things? Well, it's the fact that they were minted into NFTs before getting sold. And that's what sets NFTs apart from cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
What Do NFTs Have to Do with Journalism?
NFTs are a new form of digital property. Theoretically, if you're an NFT owner, your asset can't be duplicated or falsified without detection by the blockchain ledger system.
If journalism survives in this digital age where fake news and misinformation abound, it will have to be profitable. And NFTs can solve this problem, effectively making it a "true" form of property with a value that cannot be copied or scanned over the internet without detection.
The relationship between NFTs and journalism is explored in-depth on how blockchain technology may help save the latter in the digital age. Having said that, media companies may take advantage of blockchain technology in a few ways:
- Media organizations build business models based on how cryptocurrencies work.
- Media organizations can switch to proven database solutions that are transparent and verifiable.
- Media organizations get access to secure public data by integrating it into a blockchain system.
- Media organizations get to create an immutable digital property of their own.
Why Journalism Needs Saving
Journalism is a sector that's constantly under attack. And with the proliferation of fake news, it has never been more important for journalists to protect their work and maintain its integrity in a world riddled with social media bias.
The need for blockchain technology as an antidote against misinformation cannot be underestimated anymore if we want journalism to survive well into the future. This new system potentially solves the problem since it's a secure and verifiable system of tracking data.
Media personnel and organizations are rapidly losing their value, including the work they do. Again, the primary culprits are fake news and misinformation. When the value is lost, it means that there's lesser control in monetizing the industry. In other words, making a profit by owning a media company is becoming a lot harder in these times.
By incorporating blockchain technology, media companies will improve how their content is used, distributed, and licensed.
There exists an opportunity for ownership once again. As the value of media declines in this digital age, it's time to find a solution that can bring back ownership and increase profit by making journalism true property with a real-world value.
Re-Thinking Journalism for the Digital Age
News organizations have been commoditized in recent years, with their business models being based on how cryptocurrencies work. The problem with this is that the news industry makes profits from distributing and licensing their content, not owning it outright as real property.
The idea of journalists creating an unalterable digital property through NFTs comes in handy here because they can also use blockchain technology to create a sustainable business model.
The world is changing quickly, with technology continually evolving. And journalism must adapt accordingly if it wants to continue being relevant today, especially considering a society that loves sharing its opinions on social media platforms without regard for the truth.
It means getting into the "new" age by integrating public data and accessing transactional records like money transfers or even voting results from elections. All these actions need to be made verifiable and transparent for the public's trust not to be lost. So, this is where the concept of non-fungible tokens stored in the blockchain comes in.
NFTs have the power to save journalism by making it a "true" form of property with an unchangeable digital fingerprint. This is done through non-fungible tokens stored on the blockchain that make content verifiable and transparent while maintaining ownership for media companies and the journalists who work for them.
Here are some possible benefits of blockchain technology and NFTs for the media industry:
- Create and use tools meant to control the authenticity and origin of content
- Create a system that accepts cryptocurrencies to pay for news
- Verify journalists and media personnel through a secure system, thereby improving accountability in content creation and reporting
- Write and report tamper-proof, transparent, and verified news content
- Create a content management system and marketplace
- Get rid of the traditional ad-driven business model that's responsible for a tainted reputation for media organizations
- Provide better opportunities for independent and freelance journalists
The digital age is changing the dynamics of journalism. So, to stay competitive and true to the values of a journalist or news organization, it's time for media companies to get into the "new" age by integrating blockchain technology and NFTs. And unlike most industries that recently joined the fray, there's more to NFTs than just the money in the perspective of journalism and the media.