A future role for NFT in journalism?

Do NFTs representing journalistic content make any sense? Well, it has already been tested on a few occasions during 2021, and The Tokenizer is now doing its own experiment by launching its very own NFT shop with only one unique item available for only one customer.

At The Tokenizer, we are proud to launch our new NFT subsite NFT by The Tokenizer. We have been working on the site for quite some time, and as we started digging into the NFT topic, it soon became evident that the non-fungible token has an enormous potential in many areas and contexts and that this potential is still largely unexplored.  

So far, for most people who like to think that they know what an NFT is, the horizon of use cases typically stops with NFTs as representations of digital artworks and a bunch of funny or strange digital collectables – sometimes sold for exorbitant amounts of money.

But NFTs are so much more than that. And the mission for NFT by The Tokenizer is to discover these new and unscattered territories and analyse whether their assumed potential is or is not for real. 

A shop with only one item for sale 

As part of these future analyses, we are opening a small NFT shop – via an OpenSea API – as part of the NFT by The Tokenizer site. The shop should be understood primarily as a kind of lab where we intend to experiment with the minting of types of NFTs that we find particularly interesting. 

The initial experiment will be a series of interviews with key persons of the token economy. The interviews will be published on The Tokenizer and turned into specially designed PDFs, which will then be tokenised as NFTs and sold in our shop – one at a time. 

The very first NFT represents an interview with William Entriken, the American lead author of the ERC-721 standard for NFTs. William Entriken is a renowned thought leader in the token and NFT space, and it is probably fair to say that without his initiative and work on the ERC-721 standard, we would not have seen the global boom of the NFT industry. In fact, we might not even have seen any NFT industry at all. So it’s hard to underestimate William Entriken’s impact on the NFT space. 

The NFT of the interview with William Entriken (perhaps the first single NFT interview ever?) will be the only item in The Tokenizer’s NFT shop at the opening. One shop, one single item, which only one customer can purchase! 

NFTs and journalism

Besides promoting William Entriken’s view and vision on NFTs and the token economy, we would be happy if this interview NFT could help ignite a discussion of whether NFTs might play a role in future journalism and help create new business models for journalists and media. 

The media industry has been under economic pressure for many years partly due to digitisation and an overflow of free content from numerous sources on the internet. Paying for news and information is certainly no longer a given, and producers of resource-demanding quality content struggle to find new ways of earning a living.

But what if content consumers could become rightful owners of the content that they value the most? What if a piece of original journalistic content could become a treasured collectable? 

Think about it. What if you could own an original interview – in the shape of an NFT – with some of the most influential persons in history? Or an interview with your favourite rockstar, author, artist, politician, entrepreneur or athlete? Would you be interested in that? Or do you think anybody else would be interested? 

We think the answer is yes, and the question is whether this represents a potential new revenue source for the media industry? We definitely don’t believe in making NFTs out of any piece of journalistic content – God forbid! Why should anybody want to buy all that? (1)

But NFTs based on selected pieces of high-quality content, content that involves extraordinary people – like The Tokenizer’s coming series of interviews – or reflects significant historical moments, might be interesting for collectors – just like artworks, first editions of rare books, or handwritten letters by famous people. 

A few experiments

As mentioned, we have never before seen NFTs representing interviews, but during 2021 there have been some experiments linking NFTs and journalism. 

In March, the magazine Quartz sold the first-ever NFT news article for a price of $1,800. Also in March, The New York Times journalist Kevin Roose issued a column about NFTs as an NFT and sold it on an open market auction for $560,000! 

The column received more than 30 bids, and after the auction, Kevin Roose asked some of the bidders why they decided to participate in the auction. One of them was Mr Ouyang, whose last bid was around $469,000, and Kevin Roose tells this about his conversation with Mr Ouyang:

“Some NFT collectors believe that owning early, prominent crypto-tokens will eventually be like owning rare, first-edition books or priceless paintings. Mr Ouyang admitted that the value of my NFT was “still highly speculative and subjective.” But he said he believed that NFTs and other blockchain-based technologies would ultimately reshape the entire media landscape, allowing creators to reimagine how they create and monetise their works.

‘This particular NFT from The New York Times is one of the answers and will become a historical landmark in this inevitable movement,’ he said. ‘That’s why I think it is valuable.'” 

No one knows if NFTs, in the long run, could have a positive impact on the media industry and become an additional revenue stream. As said, our guess at The Tokenizer is that selected pieces of content involving extraordinary people or with historical significance might be interesting for NFT collectors. All the rest will most likely be of absolutely no interest at all for the still somewhat mysterious global community of NFT collectors.   

By the way – in case the William Entriken interview is sold, William Entriken will receive half of the income. We believe this in itself is an interesting model that – evidently – makes participating in interviews more attractive for the people being interviewed. 

If you want to know more about the William Entriken interview NFT, please click here, and if you want to know more about the NFT, click here.

That said, you never know if NFTs at some point will be the logical way of registering any content piece, but in that case, the purpose will be timestamping, efficient filing, and provenance.


Photo by Josh Rose on Unsplash

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