A coalition of news organizations and journalists in various parts of the world have banded together to create a cryptocurrency to sustain funding for investigative journalism. Called PressCoin, the digital currency was made to get rid of the advertising revenue model, decentralize funding sources, and upend corporate media monopolies with collaborative content that strengthens civic participation around the world.
A 28-day initial coin offering (ICO) is scheduled to begin November 22, with one PressCoin for sale at the value of $1.
“If PressCoin succeeds, I’m going to delete my Patreon account. Kind of a different ball game,” Nafeez Ahmed told VentureBeat in a Skype interview.
Ahmed, a London-based contributor to Vice and other periodicals, is editor of Insurge Intelligence, PressCoin’s flagship publication. Ahmed has raised funding for the online publication since 2014 by taking monthly subscriptions from readers through the crowdfunding site Patreon.
The Ethereum-based currency will be distributed to the wallets of both readers and journalists based on the level of engagement they are able to create, as measured using the Quintype content management system.
Readers will receive PressCoin for generating insights from thoughtful conversation. Compensation levels for readers and journalists will be based on reputation documented and recorded in the blockchain. PressCoin publications will not allow readers to engage in comments or interact with anonymous accounts.
“When you integrate something like that [reader compensation] on the blockchain and allow them to share in the total revenue that we’re generating, then you’ve got a real game changer I think in terms of how you incentivize people to interact,” Ahmed said.
Publications under the PressCoin umbrella will focus on specific areas of coverage, such as democracy, politics, energy, education, health and wellness, and science.
In addition to Insurge, PressCoin’s initial publications include NextElection, an election tracker that tells the stories of challengers over incumbents; Mojonomy, a platform for citizen journalists around the world; and ChickenSoup.News, a news outlet bent on telling positive stories.
Other members of the PressCoin media team include war correspondent John Pilger and Indian TV host and Washington Post writer Barkha Dutt.
PressCoin is following a model being tested by several companies that recently launched their own cryptocurrency.
In September, chat app Kik raised $98 million in its ICO, which it plans to use to seed its bot ecosystem and to compensate users and developers based on the levels of engagement they’re able to generate.
Sensay, an anonymous advice service that runs on popular chat apps, had a token sale this fall to compensate advice givers. Doc.ai used a similar approach to compensate people for sharing their medical information.
A portion of PressCoin transactions will be set aside for use of the Quintype platform and to support an accelerator program to pay for the establishment of other news startups.
“A certain part of the proceeds go to our accelerator program, which is our own panel of founders, and extended experts will help innovation happen in startups and in our countries around the world to help newsrooms and [to create] virtual newsrooms, too,” said Higher Order VC founder Amit Rathore, creator of the Quintype content management system currently used by Amazon, Fortune, and Bloomberg.
PressCoin was inspired in part, Ahmed said, by De Correspondent, where readers are encouraged to assist in the reporting process and interact with reporters. The Dutch news startup De Correspondent was launched in 2013 following a €1 million crowdfunding campaign it used to create its own content management system.
Like De Correspondent, PressCoin will allow limited access to read its content, but to read full stories, interact with journalists, or comment on stories, users will have to pay for a subscription or make micropayments for individual stories.
After the token sale, people will be able to subscribe or join the PressCoin system using fiat currency, credit cards, or online payment systems, PressCoin said in a statement shared with VentureBeat.