Note: Civil has sadly ceased operations since I wrote this post.
Journalism is in crisis. The numbers of journalists and journalistic entities have been decreasing for decades. Public faith in journalists is nearly at an all-time low. Many, if not most, journalistic entities are struggling to find viable business models. The outlook is bleak. But there is something you can do to help save journalism.
Civil is creating a decentralized marketplace for sustainable journalism using the Ethereum blockchain. Don't let your eyes glaze over based on that technical terminology. Bear with me. It's worth it.
A core idea here is that people who care about good journalism (like you!) buy Civil Tokens. They use their tokens to participate in a Token-Curated Registry where they curate the good content providers from the bad ones. Those content providers are called Newsrooms.
To explain how you could use your Civil Tokens to curate Newsrooms, I'll quote from Civil's Help section:
When you buy CVL tokens, you’re signaling that you wish to be part of a cooperatively owned and operated network, and participate in its governance. Tokens open up certain activities on the Civil platform including voting on Newsroom applications, challenging a Newsroom, or backing another token holder’s Newsroom challenge.
Owning CVL means owning a piece of the Civil network; they will act as voting stakes for the platform’s governance (e.g., deciding whether or not a given Newsroom meets the ethical journalism standards laid out in the Civil Constitution). There will only ever be a fixed supply of CVL tokens created. Owners of CVL will be economically incentivized to ensure existing and future Civil Newsrooms maintain high quality standards as the network, and its reach, grows.
Newsrooms will also buy a bunch of Civil Tokens to “stake” themselves (or in some early/special cases be given tokens to help them stake). So both the Newsrooms and the curators will have economic skin in the game.
Civil Tokens will be buyable and sellable at market-determined prices. So Newsrooms and token holders will be incentivized to create and curate Newsrooms that produce quality content. Civil Tokens will only increase in value if the market perceives that they lead to that quality content. And it’s all governed by the Civil Constitution. There's a white paper that gets more into the details.
Vivian Schiller has been appointed as the CEO of the Civil Foundation, an independent, nonprofit organization with the mission of upholding and advocating for the core values defined in the Civil Constitution. Her prior roles include President & CEO of NPR; Chief Digital Officer of NBC News; General Manager, of NYTimes.com; and Global Chair of News at Twitter. So, the Foundation is in good hands.
If you like podcasts, one of Civil's Newsrooms is a great podcast called ZigZag. Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant explain how this all works and chronicle their efforts to be one of the first Civil Newsrooms.
Civil Tokens will launch via an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) sale on September 18th. Based on a Civil blog post, it looks like they will sell 34 million tokens for between $8 million and $24 million depending on demand. That works out to 0.24 cents to 0.71 cents per token. So you don't have to spend much money to dip a toe in the crypto waters here. The main Civil website indicates that "Participants" can spend as little as $10.
That "sale" link above has all the details on how to register to participate. You should register well before September 18th, as it takes some time. The process is admittedly a bit geeky and involved. But Civil is an important effort worthy of your support. And it's also a great way to learn about blockchain, cryptocurrency, Ethereum, tokens, ICOs, etc. that you might already have been wondering about.
As of this writing, 1,306 people (including yours truly) have signed up to buy Civil Tokens on September 18th. Hope you will join us!
Main blog post image by AbsolutVision.