News Business Is Broken But Blockchain Can Save It
The advertising-driven revenue model is in trouble. A novel economic stimulus solution aims to tackle the crisis.
Changing the woeful business trajectory for news publishing through Blockchain auditing and growth building markets is the ambitious goal of PressCoin’s NEWS cryptocurrency. But is the news industry ready for crypto-disruption? Why haven’t digital news publishers been able to innovate past their ever shrinking advertising yields? And most importantly, what is the economic opportunity for investors?
We talked to PressCoin designer Amit Rathore and asked him how PressCoin’s crypto-economy intends to change the news game and create wealth.
The “new one percent”
PressCoin’s plan to remake the news, and with it democracy, begins with the goal of building services to provide the information needs of what Rathore calls the “new one percent.” He says:
“These are people who are seeking more than the endless argument that often passes for news these days. Professionals looking for actionable information, who need to know what is going on, consumers who want facts and opportunities for respectful, useful discussion of news events, and civil society members who seeking action and solutions.”
But while PressCoin’s initial plan involves building media platforms, it doesn’t intend to become a media company itself. PressCoin wants to support a decentralised, pluralist, free media - not become the media. Rathore says:
“Our starting point will be a suite of new publishing platforms and e-commerce tools which will demonstrate how a better experience for news consumers can drive new revenue streams for publishers. These initial platforms will target specific areas of the public sphere - elections, investigative reporting, local and hyperlocal news and citizen journalism.”
Two platforms were recently released in alpha, Next Election and Insurge Intelligence.
“The news industry needs to start treating its readers and viewers as an integral and valuable part of the ecosystem rather than as bystanders or mere consumers. Or as a product to be sold to advertisers, as Facebook and Google do. And most importantly the news business needs to get back into the business of selling news.”
Overcoming the challenge of the giants
So why does Rathore think that it’s possible to challenge the supremacy of the platform giants in the digital advertising space? He says:
“An overlooked story of 2017 was end of Yahoo as a news business. In June it sold its publishing business to Verizon for $4.5 billion. Back in 2000 this business was valued at $125 billion and looked invincible. By 2006 the company was struggling to make the right decisions. In its final decade things got really ugly. The lesson from Yahoo is that internet giants, no matter how big, remain vulnerable to innovation.”
PressCoin is betting that after being burnt thrice by the platforms, news publishers now have a high level of motivation to find new solutions to the decade long problem of declining revenues and influence.
“News content built Yahoo, and it has played a massive part in Facebook’s rise and in Google’s ongoing success. But right now all these relationships are failing for publishers. We are going to fix that.”
An industry addicted to internal competition
Ok then, how?
Rathore begins with the old saw about how legacy industries never build their replacements: “AirBnB wasn’t built by a hotel company, nor Uber by a taxi company,” he says, then shifts to address why this applies to news:
“This is a divided industry, it doesn’t know how to cooperate or build internal markets or transform itself. It needs both technology solutions, and an open bazaar model to help show the way.”
PressCoin’s initial approach will be to build reference implementations to demonstrate how publishers can go beyond publishing passive content and take reader engagement to a deeper, more purposeful level. New marketplaces for trading in content and traffic will enable publishers to cooperate and thrive.
“Right now news companies talk lots about how they are being disrupted by the internet giants. Yet they focus the bulk of their competitive energies on each other and have no cohesive collaboration strategy.”
PressCoin’s plan is to build a win-win solution for publishers using multiple Blockchains - to show how alternative approaches to growing revenues can change the news business trajectory. Rathore says:
“Using Blockchain builds trust between players, and creates economic value. We intend to show how this change can be engineered.”
The PressCoin operating system
This answers the strategy side of the how question, but what about the actual how?
Rathore now shifts focus to software engineering, the field he cut his entrepreneurial teeth in. And in particular, he focuses on the cloud based, smart, API driven, big data driven technologies he built at Quintype to accelerate innovation in the digital news market. Quintype’s suite of publisher and media cloud solutions enable publisher migration to a new omni-channel post-Facebook publishing world. This suite will provide the foundation for what Rathore calls the PressCoin OS, or the PressCoin Stack.
“Most news publishers continue to live in a world of HTML. But millennial news consumers aren’t even using Facebook, let alone the NY Times. To flourish in this rapidly evolving ecosystem publishers need a sophisticated new technology stack - one that looks a lot more like Facebook’s or Google’s than the CMS’s they presently use, and one which is data native. Our mission is to make this transition both simple and revenue positive.”
And along the way there will be change.
“Digital news also needs to learn from social media. Consumers expect to be able to interact with their news, to be able to amplify things they care about, correct mistakes, call out lies. The internet is now populated by an army of news consumers who are able to add value to publishing products – and who would like to be rewarded for their efforts - just look at Reddit and Steemit. PressCoin will make all this work for readers and publishers and everyone in the value chain.”
“Most important of all, news content itself needs a market. News is supposed to travel fast and influence what happens in the real world. To restore this aspect of the news - we need to speed up the flow of content through the system and address the challenge of ensuring fair rewards are paid for quality work. PressCoin will use Blockchain based crypto content markets to build a super efficient market in verified news content.”
“Our objective will be to restore the most important function of news, reaching a large and influential readership capable of holding the powerful to account, on focused interconnected platforms that together address news and the public sphere.”
The PressCoin ICO is raising $100 mln and the initial offering runs until January 22. Check out the PressCoin ICO here. For more about the estimated $100 bln market opportunity see this article at Cointelegraph.