ONA Weekly #352: When An Article Becomes Part Of The Blockchain

By on March 24, 2021

When an article becomes part of the blockchain

Perhaps you’ve heard about NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a type of asset that uses blockchain technology to verify the authenticity of a piece of digital work. So far, the hype around NFTs has focused on the art and entertainment worlds—like that collage that was sold for $69 million at a Christie’s auction—but there’s no reason the same technology can’t be used by media organizations. 

Earlier this month, the Associated Press sold a piece of artwork that portrays the electoral college map as seen from space (really!) as a NFT for $180,000. Then, Quartz converted an article into an NFT and provided a step-by-step guide on how they did it. In a rather meta twist, the article they turned into an NFT is the very article with the guide. After being listed on the NFT OpenSea marketplace, the NFT article sold for $1800 (or one Ethereum) to the owner of an NFT art gallery. That amount is low compared to the prices being paid for other digital art, but it’s also more than almost anyone would pay for any single article anyway. (Proceeds will go toward the Lauren Brown Fellowship at the International Women’s Media Foundation.)

Given that the market for NFTs is driven by novelty and scarcity, putting articles on the blockchain isn’t the solution to newsroom’s funding woes, but it is an interesting blend of technology and journalism that shows how far we’ve come from the days when “product” mostly meant the New York Times cooking app. 


A Better Reader Journey Begins Here: See Chartbeat’s New Guide

Chartbeat’s latest report, Navigating the New Reader Journey, shows you six actionable, data-informed steps—sourced from our network of the world’s most successful publishers—that help create a reader experience that builds loyal audiences. Download the report today.

Women in News Product meetup

Join ONA and the News Product Alliance for the Women in News Product Meetup on March 29 at 2pm EDT (1800 UTC). The Zoom event—organized as we close out Women’s History Month and celebrate the launch of the first annual News Product Summit—will be participatory and not a webinar. Attendees will be invited to breakout rooms to discuss various topics related to the intersection of editorial, engagement, technology and business. Expect to leave with new ideas, new professional opportunities and new peers. We hope to see you there! 

Pitch your session and speaker ideas for ONA21

We’re now accepting ideas for sessions and speakers at ONA21, which takes place this year from June 22-25. Anyone can submit in the areas of audience development and metrics, emerging technology, innovative news storytelling, leadership development and revenue or content strategy (including product). 

Some format options for inspiration: best practices, case studies, learn a skill and masterclass. All suggestions will be reviewed by the ONA21 Program Team. 

The deadline to submit your pitch is April 15, 2021. 

Join the DEI Coalition

As a part of our Vision25 commitment to build racial equity in newsrooms, Maynard Institute, OpenNews and ONA are collaborating to push for changes at multiple levels. This week, our partners at OpenNews launched the DEI Coalition Slack, a digital community space dedicated to sharing knowledge and taking concrete action in service of an anti-racist, equitable and just journalism industry. Over 100 community members worked together for six months to design and launch this Slack community—a space to tackle challenging conversations, create new resources, equip ourselves to be better allies and, together, change newsroom policies, systems and culture. Join the DEI Coalition Slack.

Stat of the week

22 percentNumber of digital news startups launched in the past five years, according to Project Oasis. More than half of all publications surveyed bring in less than $100,000 a year, but the field is making progress. For those interested in journalism entrepreneurship, check out a panel discussion on “real world lessons from news startups” from ONA15.

Important dates

Note: All ONA events are currently happening online, and open to all regardless of where you’re located.

Career opportunities

ONA’s Career Center is an excellent resource for jobs, fellowships and internships in digital journalism. Recent postings include:

On our radar