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Here are some common questions about Civil and Newsrooms.
How did Civil select its initial Newsrooms?
Civil allocated $1M in grants for a “First Fleet” of Newsrooms. We did this to ensure that, when the platform first launches, there will already be a number of high quality Newsrooms, broadly focused on local, international, investigative and policy journalism, with which they can engage. These Newsrooms applied for grants in fall/winter 2017, and come from journalists with backgrounds at publications including Al Jazeera, The Awl, BBC, Chicago Sun-Times, The Denver Post, LA Times, The New Yorker, Politico, TIME Magazine, Vice and The Wall Street Journal.
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.
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 be part of a cooperatively owned and operated network, and participate in its governance. Tokens open up certain activities on the Civil platform including voting on Newsroom applications, challenging a Newsroom, or backing another token holder’s Newsroom challenge.
Owning CVL means owning a piece of the Civil network; they will act as voting stakes for the platform’s governance (e.g., deciding whether or not a given Newsroom meets the ethical journalism standards laid out in the Civil Constitution). 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.
How and where do I buy CVL tokens?
We’ll be announcing more details on this process here in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
Why are you charging for stories?
When you pay for articles, you are supporting the Newsroom and paying the journalists directly. Civil is a platform for sustainable journalism; we want independent newsrooms to flourish.
Blockchain enables newsrooms to archive their stories in a permanent way, but it does cost “gas” to do so.
What is gas? And what is ETH?
Gas is a unit of measuring the computational work of running transactions or smart contracts in the Ethereum network. (Think of it like kilowatts and electricity.) Ether (ETH) is the cryptocurrency or fuel for the Ethereum network or blockchain. When you send tokens, interact with a contract, send ETH, or do anything else on the blockchain, you must pay for that computing effort. That payment is calculated in gas and gas is paid in ETH.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is an open software platform based on blockchain technology that enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications (DApps) that serve some particular purpose to its users. Civil is built on the Ethereum platform.
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.
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 archiving 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 is what we refer to when we describe Civil a "cooperatively owned and operated marketplace" -- CVL tokens represent ownership 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.
What is the Civil Registry?
The Civil Registry is an approved whitelist of Newsrooms that can publish on the Civil platform. When a prospective Newsroom stakes CVL tokens as part of the application process, the community of CVL token holders is notified. They will vet the Newsroom’s mission and roster; if everything appears in alignment with the Civil Constitution, no action is taken and a Newsroom is added to the Civil Registry after a finite waiting period.
If, however, a Newsroom (prospective or existing) appears to be in violation of the Civil Constitution, its status on the Civil Registry can be challenged. More on that process can be found here.
Civil is a decentralized marketplace, but it’s also a game. The game is called “spot the unethical Newsroom, and keep it off of the Civil Registry.”
What is the Civil Constitution?
The Civil Constitution defines ethical journalism on Civil. It’s a self-governed statement of purpose, values and code of conduct designed to ensure all Newsrooms running on Civil maintain a high quality filter in the name of earning reader trust and the marketplace as a whole being seen as a trusted source of information.
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.