How an Unlikely Fresh Jersey Duo Is Using the Ethereum Blockchain to Reshape Journalism

How an Unlikely Fresh Jersey Duo Is Using the Ethereum Blockchain to Reshape Journalism

Like many Americans, Samit Singh and Dondrey Taylor, emerged from last year’s U.S. presidential election dismayed by the state of American mass media. Now, the Fresh Jersey duo is doing something about it.

Called the Decentralized News Network, or DNN, their organization aims to produce news “by the people for the people” using monetary incentives made possible by the same technology that underlays digital currencies like Bitcoin, the blockchain. DNN combines citizen journalism with a system of fact-checking powered by circulating the platform’s own digital currency.

“DNN enables a form of incentivized collaboration that wouldn’t otherwise even be possible if we weren’t on the blockchain,” said Singh, 27, the company’s chief executive officer and a graduate of Penn State’s finance program. “The blockchain enables everyone involved to earn a chunk of the pie, assuming they put forward their share of effort.”

In an era of alternative-facts, Singh and Taylor believe America is ripe for a decentralized treatment to newsgathering, writing, editing and distribution that aims to counteract the insidiousness of fake news and over-the-top political commentary.

“We permit people to have a dialogue on factual articles,” said Taylor, 25, a graduate of the Fresh Jersey Institute of Technology, who previously partnered with Singh to create Minichat, a global messaging application. “We can cover anything and we have a decent story review process.”

Here’s how the platform works.

A writer pens a news story and submits it to DNN for accuracy and balance, which is then seen by a randomly selected, online panel of seven anonymous reviewers. They assess articles according to DNN’s editorial guidelines and suggest switches to the writer. If the article passes muster, the writer is rewarded with DNN tokens. So, too, are reviewers who approve a story with a majority of other reviewers.

“Anyone can be a writer, anyone can be a reviewer and anyone can be a reader,” said Singh, who reckons DNN will attract writers and reviewers who are sultry about providing readers with well-written, factual news. “Those roles can switch and the lines inbetween those roles can blur.”

Whatever Singh and Taylor lack in journalistic practice they make up for in passion for letting out the power of blockchain technology to produce a news platform that ordinary people can trust. They will originally concentrate on encouraging the DNN community to produce political stories.

As for previous blockchain practice, Singh and Taylor have been successfully mining Ethereum’s ether tokens for more than two years at a large-scale data center in North Carolina. Mining involves running software on a computer in order to solve mathematical algorithms to accomplish transactions on the Ethereum blockchain.

The DNN news platform will run on Ethereum, which is the world’s largest public blockchain after Bitcoin. The value of DNN’s tokens will be linked to the value of Ethereum’s ether. One ether is presently valued at approximately US$59.

Singh and Taylor were turned onto the concept of citizen journalism by what they perceived as a decline in the quality of American journalism during the presidential campaign. In fact, Americans’ trust and confidence in the mass media “to report the news fully, accurately and fairly” last year dropped to its lowest level in Gallup polling history.

Rather than selling advertising or soliciting donations to run the platform, DNN’s founders opted to fund the system by selling DNN tokens that will trade on digital token exchanges around the world.

Another strength of the DNN system is that it will be decentralized, not predominated by a corporate news provider with a political agenda. The power of the blockchain permits for a fully decentralized network that can never be hacked into, taken down or censored.

“There truly is no big overseer in this entire process,” said Singh. “DNN is run from a grass-roots level.” A demonstration version of DNN’s news software will be ready for review in May.

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