Trusted Participatory Journalism by Blockchain

Overview

Participatory journalism (also known as citizen journalism) is based upon public citizens playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing, and disseminating news and information. It becomes more and more popular with the use of smart phone for taking photos or streaming videos. One of the major concern in this area is the authenticity and the integrity of photos or videos taken by the citizen journalist. This project aims to use blockchain to ensure that the photos are within a short period of time (such that there is not much time for photoshop), and no one can claim that a photo is taken at a later time). The authorship of the photos can also be claimed easily. It can greatly increase the trust on participatory journalism.

Problem statement 

Online journalism is becoming increasingly important as the primary source of factual information among citizens. The low bar of entry has however created an environment that allows the large-scale propagation and acceptance of falsehoods and ‘fake news’. This particularly impacts the efficacy and potential of citizen journalism, allowing biases and prejudice to overrule facts when it comes to choosing whether or not to accept a given news story from a fellow citizen. 

This project aims to explore blockchain as a potential tool to combat the spread of misinformation, primarily by storing crucial data about news items uploaded to a platform immutably. This allows users to then check the origin of any news story they digest on the platform and make a more educated decision about the veracity of its contents. 

Objectives 

This project aims to develop a web platform that allows users to upload journalistic images, videos, and text and stores pertinent information such as the timestamp, image metadata, caption, and author on a blockchain. The actual media that is uploaded will be stored on a separate server, while being linked to its corresponding metadata on the blockchain. 

The platform will allow users to view the media that has been uploaded, and also be assured of its integrity by making available the associated metadata that has been stored in the blockchain. Further, the platform will allow users to create new journalistic pieces by directly referring to already-present content that has been stored on the platform. It will be possible for users to easily cite the source of the content they refer to in their newly created work, and other users will be able to view the sources and their associated metadata directly on the platform. 

The platform will be usable on desktop and mobile devices. 

Deliverables (Tentative)

We propose that the project propose along the following trajectory, building on foundational deliverables towards the final product. 

  1. A primary implementation of the blockchain will allow for the storage of image metadata. This is most importantly to gauge and administer the file format specifications and size requirements that we might later have to implement on uploaded media. 
  1. A more complete implementation of the blockchain will allow for the storage of video and text metadata as well. 
  1. A storage solution for uploaded media that links metadata to the appropriate file and allow easy navigability. A storage solution for the blockchain will also be required. 
  1. A server backend that allows manipulation of data both on the server and blockchain, allowing uploads and a rudimentary UI for viewing. 
  1. A client side application that allows users to engage with the platform to create and share content.

Tentative Schedule: 

We intend to set aside Wednesdays exclusively to work on our projects and that is also the day we intend on having sprint reviews and planning sessions. In terms of development stages, we intend to have the following rough schedule (with deadlines), subject to changes: 

  • Stage 1: Blockchain design, database schemas, consensus on user functionality and setting up of internal standards (October 31) 
  • Stage 2: Parallel initial development of the blockchain, server and the frontend.  (November 30) 
  • Stage 3: Minimum Viable Product  (January 15) 
  • Stage 4: Integration testing, additional functionality, impact analysis  (April 15) 

Our Team