Ethereum Blockchain for Community-Moderated Citizen Journalism

Citizen journalism is a powerful method to aggregate news, but only if there is a system of checks and balances in place to provide validation for the reader.

This is not censorship, this is credibility and legitimacy by community consensus.

A negative light was cast on citizen journalism, as with traditional journalism, during the 2016 political cycle. WikiLeaks played a significant role during this time, sharing sensitive information at whim to the world. Unchecked, citizen journalists missing context and performance of due diligence pulled excerpts from private documents and emails to serve a particular narrative and veraciously shared it with their networks.

Last October New York Magazine reported on these events, stating that “sane commentary, originating from a place of basic competence and knowledge and good faith,” of the WikiLeaks documents probably only accounted for “something like five percent of the total online content generated by the leaks.”

“The rest is misunderstanding and innuendo and malicious misrepresentation, and it’s doing serious damage to democracy’s ability to function. There’s just no way to have any sort of actual conversation about anything when a very loud, very engaged minority of the population is reacting to bullshit.”

Then, as the Internet does best, it rewards extremes by creating virality, with many of the participants simply glimpsing a headline and retweeting or sharing to their profiles.

Truthful and fact-driven news has largely been forsaken in favor of click-bait headlines and as a result, the general public’s understanding of current events has been immensely distorted.

Truthful and fact-driven news has largely been forsaken in favor of click-bait headlines and as a result, the general public’s understanding of current events has been immensely distorted.

The barrage of news that social networks propagated during the fall of 2016 demonstrates precisely why citizen journalists need to be held to a standard; credibility and reputation are the backbone of trusted journalism. Without a system to maintain a standard of truthfulness and transparency, we are subject to pure commentary.

Without a system to maintain a standard of truthfulness and transparency, we are subject to pure commentary.

So what is citizen journalism? By the Oxford Dictionary’s definition, it is “the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet.”

The Decentralized News Network’s (DNN) definition of citizen journalism includes an Ethereum blockchain-based process of reviewing that employs a group of seven anonymous reviewers who look to ensure that the submitted piece meets a short list of criteria:

  1. Verifiability
  2. No unsourced content
  3. Faithfulness to those sources

Verifiability

Verifiability in DNN means that other people, whether readers, writers, or reviewers, can trace the information contained in any given article back to its original source. Every definitive statement, presented as fact, has to be backed by a reputable and published source, thereby granting readers the freedom to look through a writer’s source material.

No unsourced articles

DNN articles must not contain unsourced content. Unsourced content on DNN refers to theoretical content, allegations, and opinion, that cannot be traced back to any reliable source.

This also includes analysis of published material where a writer attempts to reach or imply a conclusion that is not stated by the source material.

Faithfulness to Sources

All political news content existing on DNN that is attributed to sources must be consistent with said sources. This means that any piece of content must fairly and accurately represent the perspectives that have been already published by reliable sources on a given topic.

Having a process in place like this will no doubt serve to remove baseless articles not only by merit, but also by diligence of work.

A system of trusted citizen journalists also gives readers a unique opportunity to read from their peers, which can offer a more relatable perspective and account of experience than a traditional news organization.

A system of trusted citizen journalists also gives readers a unique opportunity to read from their peers, which can offer a more relatable perspective and account of experience than a traditional news organization.

Beyond presenting fair and accurate information, we believe that by providing a platform for a dedicated community to curate and moderate content DNN will be home to a more diversified perspective, thus providing a democratic system of information and providing greater value for the reader.

Whether the individual is a freelance journalist, casual blogger, or an average consumer of global news, he or she can contribute to DNN.

If news distribution were to function without any central authority, less importance would reside on media titans and there would exist a higher degree of autonomy and independence from the bottom-up, starting with journalists and ending at readers.

We are working to create a trustless system of news by virtue of smart contracts and a trusted peer-to-peer publishing system, we hope you will join us. Learn more about DNN via our white paper.

Our demo is coming soon, until then, join us on Slack and Bitcointalk.