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How crypto enables the rebirth of grassroot journalism

Exploring How Crypto Can Reignite the Flame of Journalism

What is Grass Roots Journalism?

Grassroots journalism is a broader concept that encompasses not only citizen journalism but also independent and community-based journalism initiatives. It involves efforts by individuals or groups at the local or community level to create and share news and information that is relevant to their community's interests and needs.

Why is it needed?

In recent years, trust in traditional media outlets has eroded significantly. Several factors have contributed to this trust deficit:

  • Perceived Bias: Many people perceive traditional media organizations as having political or corporate biases. They often question the objectivity of news reporting and suspect that media outlets may have hidden agendas or affiliations.

  • Sensationalism: Sensationalism in mainstream media, where stories are often presented for their entertainment value rather than their informative content, has contributed to skepticism. This tendency can lead to an emphasis on sensational or emotionally charged stories over objective reporting.

  • Confirmation Bias: In an age of polarized information consumption, individuals tend to seek out media sources that confirm their existing beliefs. This confirmation bias can reinforce distrust, as people are more likely to distrust news that contradicts their preconceived notions.

  • Misinformation and Fake News: The proliferation of misinformation and fake news on social media has further eroded trust in traditional media. When false or misleading information is presented as fact, it can undermine the credibility of all news sources.

Parallel Media Consumption

  • The prevailing erosion of trust in traditional media outlets has ushered in a transformative shift in consumer behavior. As disillusionment with conventional sources of news and information grows, consumers are increasingly turning to alternative media, particularly podcasts, as a means to satiate their appetite for knowledge. This evolving trend is marked by a growing preference for news-oriented discussions in podcast formats, which offer a refreshing departure from the perceived biases and credibility issues plaguing traditional media.

  • The crux of this phenomenon lies in consumers' unrelenting thirst for information and insights on a wide range of topics. It's not that the desire to stay informed has waned; rather, it's a profound mistrust that has taken root, casting a shadow over traditional news outlets. In response, consumers are seeking refuge in podcasts, where they find a different breed of content that often exudes authenticity, independence, and diverse perspectives.

What are the problems?

Insurance liability and health insurance are often significant concerns for citizen journalists due to the unique challenges and risks they face in their reporting activities:

  • Personal Safety: Citizen journalists may cover events or situations that involve physical risks, such as protests, conflicts, or disasters. In such situations, there's a heightened risk of injury or harm, making health insurance crucial to cover medical expenses in case of accidents.

  • Legal Liability: Citizen journalists may face legal challenges related to defamation, invasion of privacy, or other legal issues in their reporting. Liability insurance can protect them financially in case of legal disputes or lawsuits arising from their work.

  • Equipment and Property: Many citizen journalists use their own equipment, such as cameras and recording devices. This equipment is vulnerable to damage or theft during reporting activities, and insurance coverage can help mitigate these risks.

  • Unpredictable Environments: Citizen journalists often report from dynamic and unpredictable environments, where accidents or damage to property can occur unexpectedly. Insurance provides a safety net in such situations.

  • Medical Expenses for Travel: If citizen journalists travel to cover stories, they may require health insurance that covers medical expenses in different locations, especially if they report from areas with limited medical facilities.


Accountability can be a significant issue for citizen journalists due to several factors related to their unique position and the nature of their work:

  • Lack of Formal Training: Many citizen journalists lack formal training in journalism ethics, standards, and practices. Without this foundation, they may inadvertently violate ethical principles, such as accuracy, objectivity, and fairness, which can erode trust and accountability.

  • Limited Editorial Oversight: Unlike professional newsrooms where experienced editors review and fact-check stories, citizen journalists often work independently. This lack of editorial oversight can lead to errors, bias, or incomplete reporting, making accountability challenging.

  • Legal Risks: Reporting on sensitive or controversial topics can expose citizen journalists to legal risks. They may lack the legal resources or knowledge to defend themselves against potential lawsuits, which can have a chilling effect on their reporting.

  • Verification Challenges: Due to limited resources and access to primary sources, citizen journalists may struggle to verify the accuracy of information. This can result in the publication of unverified or incomplete stories, undermining accountability.

  • Lack of Transparency: Some citizen journalists may not disclose their affiliations, biases, or potential conflicts of interest, leading to questions about transparency and accountability in their reporting.

  • Accessibility to Resources: Citizen journalists may lack access to the same resources, such as legal counsel, fact-checking teams, or professional networks, that established media organizations have to ensure accountability.

  • Accountability to Audiences: Citizen journalists may not have well-defined audiences or mechanisms for receiving feedback and corrections from their readers or viewers, hindering their ability to be accountable to their audience.


Citizen journalists using platforms like Twitter are susceptible to deplatforming for various reasons, including violations of platform rules, perceived misuse, or content that goes against the platform's guidelines.

  • Host Platform Decisions: Deplatforming decisions can be influenced by factors within the host platform itself. Sometimes, platforms may make content moderation decisions that are inconsistent or subject to controversy. These inconsistencies can affect the experience of citizen journalists who rely on such platforms for their reporting.

  • Subjectivity in Content Moderation: Content moderation on social media platforms often involves a degree of subjectivity. What one moderator views as inappropriate or in violation of guidelines, another may not. This subjectivity can lead to differing interpretations of content and, in some cases, deplatforming.

  • Algorithmic Bias: The algorithms used by social media platforms to identify and address violations may have biases that inadvertently impact certain content creators, including citizen journalists. This can result in content removal or account suspension that may not be warranted.

  • Appeals and Transparency: Citizen journalists may face challenges in appealing deplatforming decisions or seeking transparency from platforms regarding the reasons for removal. Lack of transparency can lead to frustration and uncertainty.

  • False Reports and Manipulation: Citizen journalists can also be targeted by false reports or manipulation from other users who disagree with their reporting or perspectives. These false reports can trigger content removal or account suspension, highlighting the vulnerability of citizen journalists to coordinated efforts to silence their voices.

  • Navigating Guidelines: Citizen journalists must navigate platform guidelines that may not always align with their journalistic practices. Striking a balance between reporting and adhering to platform rules can be challenging.


  • Financial Strain: Legal fees, including attorney fees and court costs, can place a substantial financial burden on citizen journalists. Many citizen journalists operate independently or on a freelance basis, lacking the financial resources of media organizations to cover these expenses.

  • Resource Allocation: Citizen journalists often have limited budgets, and allocating a significant portion of their resources to legal fees can hinder their ability to cover other essential costs, such as equipment, travel, or research expenses.

  • Impact on Livelihood: For some citizen journalists, legal challenges can threaten their livelihood. Being unable to afford legal defense may force them to cease their reporting activities or compromise the quality and depth of their work.

  • Risk of Bankruptcy: In extreme cases, particularly when facing costly and protracted legal battles, citizen journalists may risk personal bankruptcy as they struggle to cover legal expenses. This outcome can have severe long-term financial consequences.

  • Fundraising Challenges: While some citizen journalists turn to crowdfunding or seeking financial support from their audience, raising sufficient funds to cover legal fees is not guaranteed. It requires effective marketing and can divert time and energy away from reporting.

  • Limited Access to Legal Expertise: Citizen journalists may not have access to specialized legal counsel or resources, and they may have to rely on general practitioners who may not have the expertise required to navigate complex media-related legal issues.

  • Disincentive for Investigative Reporting: The fear of high legal costs can serve as a disincentive for citizen journalists to pursue investigative reporting, especially when the potential legal risks are unclear or unpredictable.


The income of citizen journalists tends to be unstable due to various factors related to the nature of their work and the media landscape:

  • Freelance Model: Many citizen journalists operate as freelancers, which means they do not have the stability of a regular salary or benefits. They rely on income generated from individual reporting assignments or projects, making their earnings variable.

  • Ad Revenue Dependence: Some citizen journalists monetize their work through online advertising on their websites or platforms like YouTube. Ad revenue can be unpredictable and subject to fluctuations based on factors like viewership and ad rates.

  • Audience Volatility: The size and engagement of an audience can vary widely for citizen journalists. An article or video may go viral one month, generating substantial income, but viewership can drop significantly in subsequent months, affecting revenue.

  • Funding Sources: Citizen journalists may rely on crowdfunding, donations, or sponsorship to support their work. These income sources can be inconsistent, with fluctuations in contributions based on the popularity of the journalist or the perceived value of their reporting.

  • Platform Changes: Citizen journalists who rely on third-party platforms (e.g., YouTube, social media) for income are vulnerable to changes in algorithms, monetization policies, or platform rules, which can directly affect their earnings.

  • Unpredictable Story Availability: The availability of newsworthy stories can vary, leading to fluctuations in the number of reporting opportunities for citizen journalists. Some periods may offer more reporting opportunities than others.

Dao -Alignment

A well-coordinated and designed Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) has the potential to address several of the issues faced by citizen journalists, particularly those related to accountability, funding, and resilience. Here's a detailed explanation of how a DAO could help mitigate these challenges:

1. Accountability:

  • Transparent Decision-Making: DAOs operate on blockchain technology, making their decision-making processes transparent and tamper-proof. This transparency can enhance accountability by allowing members to monitor decisions and actions taken by the DAO.

  • Smart Contracts: DAOs can use smart contracts to automate certain processes and enforce rules. This can include rules related to ethical reporting and adherence to journalistic standards, thus promoting accountability among members.

  • Immutable Record: The blockchain maintains an immutable record of all transactions and decisions made by the DAO. This record can serve as a historical reference, ensuring that members are held accountable for their actions. As well as being able to validate the authenticity of media

2. Funding and Financial Stability:

  • Crowdfunding: DAOs can utilize tokenomics and crowdfunding mechanisms to raise funds. Supporters and users of citizen journalism can contribute to the DAO by purchasing tokens or making cryptocurrency donations. This decentralized funding model can provide financial stability.

  • Token Governance: Token holders can participate in decision-making processes within the DAO, including budget allocation and project funding. This empowers the community to collectively determine how funds are used and distributed.

  • Decentralized Treasury: DAOs often maintain a decentralized treasury that holds cryptocurrency assets. These assets can be used to support ongoing journalism efforts, legal defense, and other expenses, ensuring a financial safety net.

3. Resilience to Deplatforming:

  • Censorship Resistance: DAOs can be designed to be censorship-resistant, making it difficult for centralized platforms to deplatform or censor citizen journalists. Content published through the DAO's decentralized infrastructure is less susceptible to removal.

  • Decentralized Hosting: DAOs can leverage decentralized storage and hosting solutions, such as IPFS or blockchain-based content platforms. This reduces reliance on centralized hosting providers that can deplatform users.

  • Community Ownership: The ownership and governance of the DAO are distributed among its members. This means that even if a particular platform or service deplatforms an individual journalist, the DAO can continue its operations on other platforms or through its own infrastructure.

4. Legal Support and Defense:

  • Legal Fund: DAOs can allocate a portion of their funds to establish a legal defense fund. This fund can be used to support citizen journalists facing legal challenges, including covering legal fees and hiring legal experts.

  • Community Advocacy: The decentralized nature of DAOs can facilitate community advocacy efforts. When a citizen journalist faces legal issues, the DAO's members can mobilize support and resources for their defense.

  • Legal Expertise: DAOs can partner with or hire legal experts who specialize in media and journalism-related legal matters. These experts can provide guidance and representation when needed.


    Collaborative efforts among DAO members to coordinate news stories represent a transformative paradigm in the realm of journalism. This innovative approach transcends geographical boundaries, allowing members to harness their collective expertise and global presence. It's more than just news coverage; it's a dynamic and versatile system that ensures a constant flow of timely and diverse stories. Here's why this coordinated effort is crucial for the success of journalism DAOs:

  • Uninterrupted Global Coverage: With DAO members dispersed across the globe, the journalism DAO becomes a continuously operational newsroom. This global presence means that news stories from different corners of the world are vigilantly monitored and reported on, ensuring that significant events are never missed or overlooked.

  • A Tapestry of Diverse Perspectives: DAOs inherently attract members with diverse backgrounds, cultural insights, and unique viewpoints. This diversity enriches the tapestry of news coverage, offering a comprehensive array of perspectives on global events, making it more inclusive and reflective of the complexities of our interconnected world.

  • Localization Expertise: Members residing in specific regions provide invaluable localized insights and contextual understanding of news stories. This on-the-ground knowledge enhances the depth and accuracy of reporting, allowing for a more nuanced portrayal of events.

  • Agility in Reporting: When a breaking news event unfolds, DAO members can swiftly mobilize, offering real-time updates and in-depth analysis. This agility ensures that the journalism DAO remains at the forefront of providing timely and relevant news coverage, meeting the demands of an ever-evolving news landscape.

  • Collaborative Synergy: DAOs are designed to foster collaboration among their members. Journalists from diverse backgrounds can unite forces on stories that hold global significance, leveraging their combined resources and expertise to deliver well-rounded reporting.

  • Multilingual Accessibility: A journalism DAO's ability to cover news in multiple languages extends its reach and accessibility. This is particularly valuable for stories with international relevance, ensuring that critical information is disseminated across linguistic boundaries.

  • Resilience to Local Pressures: By operating on a global scale, a journalism DAO becomes less susceptible to localized censorship or external pressures. If challenges arise in one region, members from other parts of the world can step in to provide coverage, upholding journalistic integrity and independence.

  • Engaging a Global Audience: A global presence empowers a journalism DAO to engage with a worldwide audience. This inclusive engagement fosters a diverse and passionate readership, potentially attracting supporters and contributors from various regions.

  • Access to a Vast Network: Members' global connections facilitate access to sources, experts, and influencers from different corners of the world, enriching the quality and depth of reporting.

  • Versatility in Storytelling: With a global network at its disposal, a journalism DAO can cover a wide spectrum of stories. From international politics to cultural phenomena, human interest narratives, and beyond, the DAO caters to a diverse range of interests.

Ai Generated Media

In the current era of rapid technological advancement, the significance of blockchain technology is more pronounced than ever before. Its prowess in content authentication holds immense promise, particularly in the ongoing battle against the proliferation of AI-driven deepfakes. These deceptive manipulations of multimedia content have already wreaked havoc, as exemplified by the infamous Pentagon photo incident earlier this year, which erroneously triggered a financial market downturn.

Cryptographic Applications

Ensuring the robust safety of whistleblower documents is of paramount importance to protect the identities and security of those who expose wrongdoing. Leveraging Zero-Knowledge (zk) tooling and IP obfuscation tooling can significantly enhance the safety and anonymity of the submission process. Here's an expanded explanation of how these technologies work together:

1. Zero-Knowledge (zk) Tooling:

Zero-Knowledge proofs are cryptographic techniques that allow one party (the prover) to prove to another party (the verifier) that a statement is true without revealing any specific details about the statement itself. In the context of whistleblower document submission, zk tooling can be applied as follows:

  • Document Verification: Whistleblowers can use zk proofs to cryptographically verify the authenticity of the documents they receive without disclosing any identifying information. This ensures that the submitted documents are genuine and have not been tampered with.

  • Identity Protection: Whistleblowers can prove that they possess information of significance without revealing their actual identity. This can be achieved through zk proofs, assuring the organization receiving the documents that the whistleblower has legitimate concerns.

2. IP Obfuscation Tooling:

IP obfuscation tooling is designed to mask or obscure the origin of network traffic, making it challenging to trace the source back to the whistleblower. Here's how it can enhance safety in the submission process:

  • Location Concealment: By obfuscating their IP address, whistleblowers can hide their physical location, making it difficult for anyone monitoring the network to determine where the submission is coming from. This protects the whistleblower from potential physical harm or retaliation.

  • Traffic Routing: IP obfuscation tools such as NYM can route network traffic through multiple servers or nodes, creating a complex path that makes it extremely challenging to trace back to the source. This process is known as "mixing" or "tumbling" and can further enhance anonymity. Especially from state actors that can monitor an entire network

    News Reporting and Encrypted Messaging Examples

    • In June 2022, Starling Lab and Hala Systems filed a cryptographic dossier documenting possible war crimes in Kharkiv, Ukraine to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The dossier was created in response to escalating attacks against Ukraine's second largest city. A global team of experts worked quickly to preserve and authenticate a complex evidence base. The dossier is a legal and technical breakthrough, as it is the first digital evidence package to be registered and preserved on 7 protocols across the decentralized web. Extensive documentation developed with the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab brings into focus alleged war crimes committed against schools in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

    • Pastenym represents a significant leap in privacy-conscious message sharing services, leveraging the robust security of the Nym mixnet to safeguard both users and their data. When a user engages with Pastenym, the Nym client takes charge, selecting three mixnodes to handle the data transmission while meticulously encrypting it using public keys. This encryption ensures seamless relay to subsequent mixnodes or gateways within the network. As for the recipient's gateway, in the context of Pastenym, this pertains to the server housing the data. Here's where Pastenym truly shines: it elevates privacy by shielding critical metadata, which, in conventional pastebin services, can be exploited to correlate information across platforms and trace user activities. Pastenym accomplishes this feat by abstaining from logging IP addresses at the IPFS gateway, instead opting to store data directly on IPFS. This ingenious approach ensures that even if the frontend encounters any disruptions, your messages remain securely accessible and retrievable from the resilient IPFS storage infrastructure. In essence, Pastenym redefines the landscape of privacy in message sharing, offering users an unparalleled level of data protection and peace of mind.

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