Erika Alexander is using the blockchain to make journalism more inclusive


Civil, the blockchain-based journalism platform, is adding a new site to its mix. Called The Blackness the effort was made in collaboration with Color Farm Media, a media and venture study company launched last year with the goal of developing and producing content that bring greater diversity into the landscape of the media. [19659002] The Blackness aims to do just that by publishing long-lasting multimedia stories that focus on under-represented communities of colored stories of marginalized groups, what they are doing and what has been done to them. "It's like a Vice but for those communities," explains Color Farm co-founder Erika Alexander, actress and writer known for her roles in such films as Fuori and performances like Living Singl e. The idea behind the publication, he adds, "was to talk about the things that disappear".

Alexander and his co-founder of Color Farm Ben Arnon, a technologist and media entrepreneur, are creating partnerships with a number of journalistic organizations that can contribute to the production of content for The Blackness, included groups such as the National Association for Black Journalists, along with several historically black colleges and universities. "We are trying to have a distributed network of journalists," says Arnon.

Working with these groups and procuring talents from organizations seeking marginalized voices, the two hope to build a media society that says new and engaging multimedia stories

Ben Arnon and Erika Alexander [Photo: courtesy of Color Farm]

Why blockchain?

When it was conceived for the first time, it was not clear at first what form The Blackness would take. One of the first ideas, says Arnon, was to launch a podcast. Then the two founders thought maybe to launch a video-journalism enterprise. But other Color Farm projects took precedence over a period of time.

Then, at the start of this year, Arnon started talking to Civil about working together, and decided that The Blackness would live on the new Civil blockchain launched platform. While the Civil sites look like normal web pages, their back-end architecture is such that they are produced using the ledger technology that records every change, protecting the archive of history from any external interference.

This is partly what interested the two founders in technology. According to Arnon, he has long been interested in blockchain technology, and was immediately attracted to the Civil project. "A decentralized platform for journalism makes sense," he tells me.

Not only that, but the governance model led by the Civil community seemed like a perfect case for the organizations that Color Farm hoped to cultivate. The platform plans to launch ethereum tokens between September 18th and October 2nd. These coins will be used as a form of governance, creating an economic incentive system for the token-holding community. Keeping a Civic token is essentially like keeping an inventory in the whole ecosystem of journalism. It gives people the right to vote, which is used when questions arise about the future of the platform.

Similarly, if someone claims that a press room is against Civil constitution, token holders will be asked to vote on the matter. Users can also use coins to launch their own editors. Essentially, Civil hopes to create a community in which users have a vested interest in their livelihood. Already, a large number of news sites of civil origin have started to tick. Include Popula a site focused on the worldwide level of cultural essays; Sludge an investigative journalistic outlet; and Hmm Daily a site yet to be launched by Gawker and Awl alumi.

Both Alexander and Arnon will be holders of tokens when the coins go live Civil co-founder Matt Coolidge tells me that in addition to email they will also be focused on "recruiting diverse media organizations to join the network." Arnon tells me in a follow-up email that sees this role as a recruiter and token holder "as crucial to the long-term success of our partnership with Civil."

For now, Color Farm is just announcing the editorial staff, and he's trying to figure out how to build it across the board. The next one, says Alexander, is increasing the site: "We'll need a lot of help," he tells me. Arnon sees the site as a "structure similar to the basic community organization". Stories and journalists will be distributed and will take place locally, then move on to the editorial chain until it is on the site. He adds that there will be "levels of quality control", which I assume means editors.

Both founders hope that Civil, and the new technology on which it is based, will help push The Blackness on its mission to create a thriving space for marginalized voices in the media. In the process, it could simply be a model for fairer journalism. Alexander adds: "I think it's sexy too."

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