Columbia University Studies the Role of Blockchain In Journalism

In an event tagged “Blockchain in Journalism: Promise and Practice,” the Columbia University’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism held a panel examining the role of blockchain technology in the world of journalism as a significant sector, as reported by Columbia Journalism Review.

Tow Center for Digital Journalism

A quick study into the Tow Center shows that it’s a part of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, purveyors of the famed Pulitzer Prize. The Tow Center mission statement which is a summary of its aim states thus:

“The Tow Center for Digital Journalism explores the ways in which technology is changing journalism, its practice and its consumption – particularly as consumers of news seek ways to judge the reliability, standards, and credibility of information.”

Being that technological change and development can be inferred from this mission statement that clearly suffices for the body’s penchant of exploring the relation cum impact of blockchain technology in journalism.
According to the Columbia Journalism Review, it was duly noted by Mia Shuang Li that the event was honored by several highly revered individuals who were on the panel in a way that it cuts across the blockchain and journalism sector. Also, the CEO of Civil Foundation Vivian Schiller and ZigZag podcast’s Manoush Zomorodi were on the panel:

“Civil functions as a platform supporting many news publications, ZigZag among them, financed by its own token the CVL, and was a major topic of discussion as well as a panelist.”

Contributions were received from Columbia researcher Eran Tromer, New York Times researcher Nellie Bowles, Forbes head of Product & Tech Salah Zalatimo, and CEO of Jarrod Dicker.

Challenges of Blockchain Journalism

Considering the challenges facing this sector, Shuang Li describes a series of three problems that blockchain journalism poses. The panel highlighted the first challenge being the relationship between blockchain and cryptocurrencies, stating that the former has shared in the stigma of the latter.
According to the panel, the second challenge is the complexity of the blockchain realities which makes it almost a mystery for a layman to comprehend. A panelist, Manoush Zomorodi pointed out that his podcast is an extension of this effort.
The third and the last challenge is that of “flawed […] product design,” and crude interface leading to a loss of trust and interest in blockchain-based journalism projects. Shuang Li noted that “Nieman Lab’s John Keefe calculated that it takes 44 steps to purchase CVL, the token that powers Civil.”

Blockchain Journalists Overexcited?

Even after the panel highlighted the major issues, there were certain considerations that some blockchain journalist were overexcited; a position which some members of the panel were skeptical about.

“While the panelists were generally optimistic about blockchain’s potential to improve public trust in journalism, they also wondered whether the journalism industry had too hopeful a view of the blockchain-based future.”

That aside, the Columbia University has joined the league of top universities around the world that has added one or two blockchain-related studies to their curriculum in one way or the other. Currently, many of them are offering blockchain and cryptocurrency classes; this is most popular in the United States. This list of top university towing this route has Stanford University standing on top of it.

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