Fake news and media bias is not exactly a new phenomenon in the traditional media space. For decades, paid journalists have stuck to the tradition of lurid sensationalism and scandal-mongering exaggeration put in service to profits. In the most general form, fake news is factually inaccurate, optimized for sharing, and meant to obscure or distort emotions.
It’s a no-brainer, Web2 media outlets have severely damaged the trust people had in the traditional publishing system. This has created a system that promotes click-bait and is controlled by an elite few.
DAO-powered media news resources are coming
Blockchain technology is already disrupting a number of industries as we know them – from finance to art, entertainment, and social interactions. In the DAO scene, for instance, several decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have sprung up to tackle one issue or the other. And over the past year, a handful of media-centric DAOs have also emerged in an attempt to decentralize the media space.
In October 2021, crypto news site Decrypt alongside The Defiant, ACJR, and others launched PubDAO, a media DAO for crypto coverage that is on a mission to redefine publication creation and distribution. The project is “akin to a decentralized Associated Press.”
One interesting thing about PubDAO content is that story ideas are actually openly brainstormed in the project’s Discord channel. Ultimately, the decentralized wire service is looking to create “guilds made up of writers, editors, photographers, illustrators, advertisers, and marketers.”
Apart from PubDAO, there are others like TruthDAO, rekt, EmpireDAO, and Story Guild that are working on different aspects of web3-powered media. TruthDAO, for instance, describes itself as “a nonpartisan, bias-free, professional news organization built with community support and interaction through a decentralized DAO structure.” An excerpt from its website reads:
We publish original journalism content produced by seasoned professionals. We support press freedom and push for a return to quality reporting, so that the news media, especially in the United States, can once again be a beacon of trust.
There is undoubtedly a growing interest in DAO-powered news media resources. A few days ago, the founder and current CEO of Messari, Ryan Selkis, took to Twitter to voice his intention to launch an all-star crypto media DAO.
Responding to Ryan, Robin David said that “traditional media companies offer distribution and pooled resources, which is where all incumbent holds power.” However, DAOs should experiment with “pooled resources and shared incentives [to] mitigate centralized corruption risk.” He continued:
Starting one imo is hard, but once it reaches escape velocity becomes very anti-fragile.
Meanwhile, Wong Joon Ian, the founding co-president of ACJR, believes that no single individual should control the next “serious” crypto media publication.
“I only have one idea here and it’s to keep funding and ownership of the publication on chain. Industry pools money, pumps it into a contract. Contract disburses agreed upon amount each year in perpetuity. It’s an on-chain version of a trust model, eg. Used by the Guardian,” he said in the ACJR chat.
Although the idea of pooled ownership of media publications sounds promising, one is left to wonder if decentralized ownership is enough to solve the challenges of traditional media. No doubt, community-vetted content will go a long way in ensuring minimal bias. However, relying entirely on open-source content and community vetting might stall growth. Also, what happens if a creator within the DAO decides to be biased?
It is also nearly impossible to take away human bias. Humans will naturally push narratives that favor them. Maybe, the problem is not with the tech or infrastructure but with the participants. But like Ajit Tripathi said:
I think anyone who asks for "trust" in crypto should be automatically untrusted. Someone in the media should investigate beyond whatever we know and report facts. Trust is not required.