Disclosure: Smith + Crown was a compensated advisor to this project.
What is the Project?
Decentralized News Network (DNN) is a news platform that uses the Ethereum blockchain to deliver content produced and curated by a community of distributed readers, writers, and reviewers. Decentralized News Network aspires to be a decentralized, more democratic alternative to mainstream media outlets. The model seeks to minimize or remove bad external influences on news production and better uphold journalistic principles of accuracy and impartiality. Their token, DNN, is primarily used by readers to access and interact with articles, and to compensate the contributions of writers, reviewers, and publishers.
Mass media, in Decentralized News Network’s view, produces flawed and misleading content due to factors like corporate media’s high conglomeration, partisan coverage, and ‘click-bait’-inducing financial incentives. To offer a more objective media alternative, DNN is developing a blockchain-based news platform and token ecosystem designed to change how news is created and consumed.
Accurate, agenda-free news articles are the intended product of DNN’s decentralized publication process. Anyone can write news articles conforming to DNN’s editorial standards and submit them for publication review, staking DNN, the network’s token, to compensate reviewers and limit spam. Articles are evaluated for grammar, citations, inaccuracies and adherence to DNN’s guidelines by seven anonymous, ‘quasi-randomly’-selected reviewers, who independently provide editorial feedback and vote on the publishing decision. Whether an article is approved for publication or marked revise-and-resubmit is determined by a majority vote amongst reviewers, who each earn points when their individual vote coincides with the majority decision. Published articles are immutably stored on the Ethereum network and an article’s financing is made transparent; the network displays which parties were distributed how many tokens for what reasons.
Notably, articles produced on the network are not funded by ad revenue nor can content be externally sponsored, a choice made for the sake of greater journalistic integrity. Instead, Decentralized News Network anticipates that revenue from readers will sufficiently sustain writer, reviewer, and publisher’s efforts— articles will be available by subscription or pay-to-access.
While Decentralized News Network’s criticisms of mass media have some merit, and the articles published via the network might turn out to be of higher journalistic quality, one wonders whether there is enough demand for a more unbiased media source to compete with the sometimes ad-filled, sometimes sensationalist, but largely free offerings of the major news conglomerates. On the other hand, fostering a self-sustaining community that understands itself as promoting and producing good journalism is nothing to belittle either, though here, too, limited participation is a danger—avoiding insularity and confirmation biases requires diversity.
The DNN Token
Decentralized News Network’s token model involves one tradable token and one non-tradable accounting token. Decentralized News Network’s token, DNN, is primarily used by readers to access and interact with articles, and to compensate writers, reviewers, and publishers’ contributions. DNN tokens exchanged on the platform are pooled and distributed on a periodic basis among its users. The model also employs an on-chain ‘points’ system, using auditable but not tradable tokens that different user groups stake in exchange for token rewards.
There are four roles on the network whereby users can earn or spend DNN tokens and points:
- Readers: Readers pay DNN tokens to access articles, to upvote or comment on content, and to suggest topics. Readers can earn tokens for suggesting news topics that subsequently get published.
- Writers: Writers earn DNN tokens when readers upvote content and for publishing articles on reader suggested topics. When an article is upvoted by readers, writers receive a portion (95%) of the tokens used. Writers pay a small amount of tokens to submit articles for review. They earn points when an article is accepted, and these points entitle them to tokens from the reward pool.
- Reviewers: When a reviewed article is upvoted by readers, reviewers receive a small portion (5%) of the tokens used. Reviewers bid DNN tokens to win the right to review articles. Reviewers can earn points for reviewing articles, and these points entitle them to weekly rewards.
- Publishers: Publishers earn points for hosting nodes, and these points entitle them to tokens from the reward pool.
The aforementioned rewards pool accrues tokens that readers spend on commenting, reading, and upvoting articles, and that writers spend on submission fees. Every two weeks, user staked DNN points get exchanged for the tokens held in the rewards pool. In the initial phases, Decentralized News Network will determine the parameters governing point earning, so as to balance reward payouts. The stated goal of the point system is to help facilitate token reward distribution—incorporating a point system gives Decentralized News Network greater flexibility in determining action costs as the token’s value increases.
Who is the Team Behind the Project?
Samit Singh (CEO) and Dondrey Taylor (CTO) are the co-founders of Decentralized News Network. They previously worked together on startup projects like MiniChat, Inc. and Tack Video, are both experienced web and mobile developers, and are passionate about blockchain technologies. Mališa Pušonja is the team’s Chief R&D engineer, and is responsible for the MVP.
While experienced in software development, few in the core team appear to have a work history in journalism. We asked DNN if they could expand on how the project has been informed by journalists’ experience and perspectives. DNN responded by emphasizing that all their decisions were informed by journalist and independent writers whom they have actively, if informally, engaged with since the projects start, and by clarifying the nature of that engagement.
Examples of such engagement include interactions with Tom Law, Director of Campaigns and Communications, who has written publications including Al Jazeera and BBC and is involved in discussions concerning DNN’s editorial guidelines. Talks with investigative journalists, including Christiaan Triebert from Airwars, have also aided DNN in figuring out ways to vet writers claims using the open source tools DNN’s review system can integrate. DNN also intends to make a push this year to acquire further additional journalistic advisors.
|Incorporation status||Gibraltar, 2017|
|Team openness||Fully transparent|
|Blockchain Developer||Samit Singh, Dondrey Taylor, Mališa Pušonja, Andrej Cvoro, and Uros Radovanovic|
|Technical White Paper||Not available|
|Available Project Code||Yes|
|Prototype||Alpha Testnet Released|
|Role of token||Payment and Access|
|Token supply||1 billion DNN|
|Distributed in ICO||600 million DNN|
|Emission rate||No new coins created|
|Consensus method||Proof of Work|
|Sale period||March 1st, 2018 to April 9th, 2018|
|First price||20% Bonus, 1 ETH = 3600 DNN|
|Investment Round||First public offering|
|Token distribution date||March 16, 2018|
|Min investment goal||No softcap|
|Max investment cap||70,000 ETH|
|How are funds held||Multisig Smart Contract|
|Minimal Viable Product||Q2 2018|
|Bonus schedule||10% Bonus, Ten Month Vesting|