Help and support

Information for Prospective Newsrooms

What is Civil?

Civil is a network of independently owned and operated news organizations from around the world. Most newsrooms are smaller (less than 20 total staff), and committed to public service journalism. Civil is creating a community for these newsrooms to better access the wisdom of their peers, share best practices and experiment with new revenue streams and reader engagement strategies.

Newsrooms publishing on Civil must be approved by the community and meet its ethical journalism standards. They will then be included on the Civil Registry, which lists all community-approved newsrooms committed to producing ethical, trustworthy journalism.

What makes Civil different?

Civil, like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and others, is a platform to find, share and support journalism. Unlike others, is a journalism co-op, where control is distributed to all members who own CVL tokens. This means Civil is owned and operated by the news organizations and the readers they serve. There’s no corporate owner taking cuts of membership or subscription payments to newsrooms, nor telling them what they can or can’t publish. All major decisions on Civil occur transparently and by community consensus.

How does this model work?

Civil operates a token economy. CVL tokens represent controlling a piece of the network, and afford members unique rights over the platform’s governance. CVL is a cryptocurrency, and tokens can also be used to directly support newsrooms. Accepting CVL is optional, and not a prerequisite for newsrooms seeking to join the community.

Prospective newsrooms considering joining Civil don’t have to change anything that works with their existing model.

Who is already part of the Civil community?

There are already 18 newsrooms (totalling more than 150 journalists) and they are finding Civil to be very valuable. We're looking now to scale the community to hundreds more.

CVL Tokens

When can I buy CVL tokens?

CVL tokens will be available for purchase on on or before February 15. To stay informed with the latest information, sign up for our newsletter:

Is CVL a security?

No. CVL is a consumer token, not a security token. It is exclusively intended for consumers who understand that CVL tokens are intended to drive the network's governance model, and who intend to use them for that purpose. Learn more at

The design of the CVL token sale process makes clear that the CVL token is not intended to be an investment and that every participant in the CVL first-edition token sale paid the same price.

Key concepts to understand before purchasing CVL tokens

What is ETH? And what is gas?

Ether (ETH) is the cryptocurrency or fuel for the Ethereum blockchain. When you send tokens or send ETH on the blockchain, you must pay for that computing effort. That payment is calculated in Gas and Gas is paid in ETH.

When sending a transaction, you set a gas limit. You must set this limit carefully, because if you set it too low and the transaction fails as a result, you will lose the gas / ETH that you spent. When purchasing CVL through Token Foundry, remember to budget in a little extra to cover your gas fee.

What is a Wallet? What is a Public Key? What is a Private Key?

Cryptocurrency wallets don’t store any actual money  –  they store the Public and Private Keys that provide access to those assets.

You keep your cryptocurrency including CVL tokens in a wallet. The wallet has an address. To put currency in or take it out, you use the wallet's public address or Public Key. It looks something like this:


Think of a wallet address like a post office box. Anybody can know the box number, and send things to the box, but you will need a “Private Key” to get inside. Nobody – including you – can get in without that key. The Private Key is a random-looking string of characters, like this:


Be EXTREMELY CAREFUL with your Private Key. Do not save Private Keys on a computer or email them anywhere, not even to yourself. Don’t take a picture and store it online. Don't even type or copy Private Keys onto a keyboard, clipboard, scanner or printer. In short, do not save it in a digital format.

DO write your Private Keys down on a piece of paper and keep it in a safe, memorable place. (Two pieces of paper in two different places is the best possible method. For example: one in a bank safety deposit box, and one at a family member’s home. In case of loss or fire, etc.)

What is a recovery phrase (seed) and why is it important to secure it?

Any time a wallet is set up, users are provided with a unique recovery phrase or “seed” composed of anywhere from 12–24 randomized words. Recovery seeds are considered the most important aspect of maintaining the safety of your cryptocurrencies. A recovery seed is your best friend when you lose your paper, hardware, or mobile wallet, as it’s the only way you can recover your funds and wallet. Many individuals skip writing down their recovery seed when setting up a wallet. Don’t make this mistake.

Similar to the Private Key, be EXTREMELY CAREFUL with your recovery seed. Do not save it on a computer or email it anywhere, not even to yourself. Don't even type or save the recovery seed online. In short, do not save it in a digital format. DO write your recovery seed down on paper and keep it in a safe, memorable place (two copies are best).

If you lose the Private Key of the wallet holding your tokens and don't have your recovery seed, you won’t be able to recover your assets. You will lose the cryptocurrency or tokens forever.

What is a Hot Wallet? What is a Cold Wallet? What is an Exchange Wallet?

A Hot Wallet is a wallet that is connected to the internet or where the private key is stored on the machine that is plugged into a computer and connected to the internet. Most people keep a small amount of money in their Hot Wallets for purchasing tokens or doing transactions (similar to real wallets that people use on a day-to-day basis). You personally sign each transaction.

Cold Wallets are used for long-term storage of cryptocurrencies and typically hold large amounts of money that are not accessed very frequently. Cold wallets are only ever connected to the internet to make a transaction and the private key never leaves the physical device, which decreases the likelihood of these funds being stolen by a hacker. You personally sign each transaction. Trezor and Ledger are commonly used cold wallets.

Any funds held in exchanges like Bittrex and Poloniex are stored in these companies’ servers and are connected to the internet to be actively traded. Storing funds in exchanges can offer added risks, as you do not hold the keys to your wallet, a third-party does. Make sure you review and trust any exchange before storing funds there.

What are common pricing trends for tokens – do prices fluctuate?

The CVL token is a cryptocurrency – and just like any currency, tokens can decrease or increase over time. Token pricing is related to various factors including the total volume of tokens in the market, how often they are used in an ecosystem or project, how many people are on the platform, and how often the tokens are sold on exchanges.

What are the project, usage and structural factors to take into consideration when purchasing a token?

Like any financial decision, it is important to do your research before buying tokens. Important elements to consider are the purpose of the token and what it will be used for. It’s also a good idea to look at the team behind the token – the founders, the advisors and the team. How the token design and supply are structured will also affect the price.

Why is it important to diversify your portfolio, including crypto and non-crypto assets?

Buying tokens, like any financial decision, is a risk. There are no guaranteed outcomes or guaranteed returns. So it’s important to diversify your portfolio across many investment vehicles – crypto assets and non-crypto assets.

Similar to a stock market, you must be ready to lose some or all of the money you’ve put into crypto assets. Maintaining your financial stability is key. Be careful not to buy more than you can afford to lose, and think carefully before you borrow against credit cards, bank loans or personal loans in order to buy tokens.

How CVL tokens work

Are all articles on Civil going to be behind a paywall?

No. Newsrooms will set their own policies, but each will generally offer a mix of free and paid content. There will be no universal paywall for content published on Civil.

How do I support articles?

You can pay for a membership to Newsrooms, which can unlock additional content or features (e.g., exclusive access to journalists in a given Newsroom). You can pay with credit cards or with cryptocurrency (including ETH and CVL tokens).

What are CVL tokens?

CVL is a utility token based on the ERC20 protocol. It’s a value stored in a decentralized database that’s managed by Civil’s smart contracts, which allows the Civil platform to interact with the CVL token. CVL is the software that bridges Civil with the Ethereum blockchain. The CVL token is vital to Civil’s overall model, as it unlocks two vital business features for the platform: self-governance and permanent archiving.

Why would I buy CVL tokens?

When you buy CVL tokens, you’re signaling that you wish to participate in Civil’s community-driven governance model. Tokens unlock specific activities on the Civil platform, including sponsoring or launching a newsroom, challenging and voting for/against Newsrooms for ethics violations or appealing the outcome of a community vote to the Civil Council.

Owning CVL means owning a piece of the Civil network.There will only ever be a fixed supply of CVL tokens created. Owners of CVL will be economically incentivized to ensure existing and future Civil Newsrooms maintain high quality standards as the network, and its reach, grows.

Why are you charging for stories?

The Civil Media Company is not charging for stories.

When you pay for articles, you are supporting the Newsroom and paying the journalists directly. The Civil Media Company built the Civil platform to create a network where independent newsrooms could more effectively build reader-supported models. The network is owned by no single entity — a rarity in today's media climate. In this model, journalists are beholden to their readers alone, and newsrooms will seek reader-supported funding models.

In service of its mission to promote a more sustainable, reader-supported journalism model, The Civil Media Company will never take a direct cut of any transactions paid between readers and newsrooms.

How Civil Newsrooms work

Does the Civil Media Company “own” the Newsrooms that run on its platforms? Does it make money from readers who support individual Newsrooms?

The answer to both questions is no. Newsrooms that run on the Civil protocol retain full independence. They determine their revenue model, they retain full autonomy over all business and editorial decisions (including hiring journalists, changing subscription fees, etc.). Similarly, the Civil Media Company does not take any direct cut of transactions between readers and journalists. Civil’s model is predicated on taking the proverbial “middleman” (third-party publishers, advertisers) out of the equation, and letting journalists focus on serving their readers above all else, without third party pressure.

Are all articles on Civil going to be behind a paywall?

Newsrooms will set their own policies, but each will generally offer a mix of free and paid content. There will be no universal paywall for content published on Civil.

How do I support articles?

You can pay for a membership to Newsrooms, which can unlock additional content or features (e.g., exclusive access to journalists in a given Newsroom). You can pay with credit cards or with cryptocurrency (including ETH and CVL tokens).

What’s the process for applying to become a Civil Newsroom?

To gain access to the Civil marketplace, a prospective Newsroom must take four steps:

  • Submit a “Charter,” provided by The Civil Media Company, outlining the Newsroom’s mission and purpose, its plans for how it will generate funding from the community, and how it will direct that funding.
  • Submit a “Roster,” including any relevant credentials for those leading and working within the proposed Newsroom.
  • Pledge to adhere to the Civil Constitution.
  • Stake CVL tokens to state the seriousness of your intent, and to formally enact the process of gaining access to the Civil Registry.

How do I know if an article is trustworthy? Can I read the journalist’s bio?

Articles on Civil will include Credibility Indicators that provide background into what did – and did not – go into the reporting of a given article.

What are credibility indicators?

Civil identified four credibility indicators to help readers better assess information as it’s reported . Writers will select the indicators that apply to their piece, and then their editors verify the selections. These Credibility Indicators are listed in a module next to the relevant articles and include:

  • Original Reporting
  • Subject Specialist
  • On the Ground Reporting
  • Sources Cited

Can I read Civil journalists and articles on other websites?

Currently you can read a Newsmaker’s work on a Civil Newsroom; eventually Newsrooms may syndicate their content to other news platforms.

I don’t want to subscribe yet, but how can I support a journalist or a newsroom that I like?

Civil will soon offer microtipping functionality, which will enable you to send a newsroom or a specific journalist a small amount of CVL tokens or ETH as a gesture of appreciation for a given article.

Who wrote Civil’s Constitution?

The Constitution was co-written by 50+ working journalists, academics, lawyers, cryptoeconomic advisors and The Civil Media Company. It is the foundational document for ensuring that Civil maintains a high quality filter for all Newsrooms running on it; its ongoing maintenance and evolution is the domain of the Civil Foundation, led by Vivian Schiller.

Why Blockchain

I don’t understand blockchain. Can I still interact with Civil Newsrooms?

Yes. You can read Newsroom articles and support Newsrooms through membership and subscriptions without a knowledge of blockchain and you will not need to use cryptocurrency for payments. We recommend reading "A Non-Blockchain-y Person Explains Blockchain" by Civil's Vivian Schiller for more context on why it's necessary to this model.

Why is Civil using blockchain?

  • At a high level, blockchain introduces two fundamentally new concepts for journalism: self-governance and permanent archiving.
    • The Ethereum blockchain enables journalists to permanently archive journalistic content in its distributed ledger -- a nearly immutable database that can only be changed if 51% of a massive, distributed network of worldwide users vote to alter its records, given the coordination logistics and competing incentives to do so... a nearly impossible feat, even for motivated billionaires with nearly limitless pools of capital to do so. This piece sums this concept up well.
    • Self-governance refers to Civil’s co-op model -- CVL tokens represent stakes in the network, and will be the sole utility used for voting on Civil’s governance (e.g., a Newsroom’s right to publish on Civil, or amendments to the Civil Constitution). No single party - nor ideology - should be able to wrest controlling interest of the content that appears on this platform. This enables a cryptoeconomically incentivized network of participants committed to the same ethical journalism standards.

Why would a writer want to publish to the blockchain?

Beyond the permanent archiving functionality described above, there are a number of other benefits for journalists publishing on the blockchain. For one, its decentralized nature makes it inherently resistant to censorship. In a decentralized network in which no single party (or server) is in total control, it’s prohibitively difficult for a centralized actor (e.g., a corporation or a government) to remove or block content simply because they disagree with it. Blockchain also offers compelling new use cases for proving and protecting intellectual property, including original photos and text.