Block Club Chicago is a non-profit news site. It’s relying on subscriptions for funding from readers. It also got a boost from a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter.
But Toomey and his co-founders also decided to try something more radical.
They’re partnering with a New York-based start-up called the Civil Media Company, which is building a network, or platform, for independent news organizations, including a new model for funding journalism using a technology called blockchain.
If you’ve heard of blockchain at all, it’s probably because that’s what is under the hood of Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the cryptocurrency whose value has swung wildly, making and losing a lot of money for a lot of people.
In its simplest form, a blockchain is a giant digital ledger that keeps track of transactions. The records aren’t stored in any one place, but across independent computers anywhere in the world. Meaning, its supporters say, it’s permanent and nearly impossible to hack.
Civil is trying to harness that same technology for journalism, including creating its own cryptocurrency to help journalists get paid for their work.