“There’s an app for that.”
I wish all journalism problems could be solved with an app, pivot to video or blockchain. Sadly, this is not the case. Problems in journalism are plentiful – from business models to lack of trust – and tech can’t save all of them in one easy swoop.
At the same time, it would be foolish not to consider the benefits of new technology without losing sight of the bigger picture. Will blockchain “safe journalism”? No.
It might help alleviate some aspects of the problem, though. Especially for media companies like ourselves in countries with a lower standard of press freedom.
Press freedom in Asia
The Asia-Pacific region spans 34 countries and has more than half the world’s population. It also holds the record for some of the worst press freedom violations.
China and Vietnam have the world’s biggest prisons for journalists and bloggers. The world’s deadliest countries for journalists and bloggers are Pakistan, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. Also, the region is home to some of the worst dictatorships and information “black holes”, particularly in North Korea and Laos.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that journalists face attacks and threats regularly. Incidents directed at journalists include regulation, censorship, prosecution, intimidation, assault and even killing. Last year, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance recorded 128 of these incidents in Southeast Asia alone.
In this environment, you have to be a little bit crazy to start a new media company. However, with independent media being forced to close down across the continent, the need for more media companies is evident.
But, how can someone stay safe in this hostile climate? That’s where blockchain comes in.
As most of you may know, we’re supported by The Civil Media Company (Civil), which is a blockchain platform for quality journalism.
The best thing about Civil is being part of an amazing network of journalists, called First Fleet Newsrooms, who are dedicated to solving the issues journalism faces right now. We discuss, experiment and collaborate to find solutions to the wicked problem that journalism is. Some of the solutions and best practices we’re implementing at Global Ground are community engagement, fact-checking, transparency, and, of course, blockchain.
For Global Ground, blockchain translates into a layer of protection, because our stories will continue to live on through the blockchain if governments try to shut down our website. It’s not fail-safe and won’t protect us from any kind of other attacks, but it’s a step forward compared to a regular website.
Our website will look and function just like any other news site and most of you won’t interact with the blockchain at all – which is fine! We will support payments in regular currencies, for example.
For the few of you who are familiar with cryptocurrencies and want to interact more with us (for example in contributing to our stories or paying in cryptocurrencies), that’s possible too.