On March 21, 2006, Twitter's co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey, tweeted, "just putting up my twttr." It was his — and the rest of the world's — first tweet. That tweet, which can be viewed for free by anybody with internet access, was sold as an NFT for the equivalent of $2.9 million almost precisely 15 years later.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have recently received a lot of attention in popular culture and the media. They've made inroads into the entertainment, sports, business, and now media industries. According to Forbes, the NFT sector have generated $250 million in sales during 2020.
A digital record is a non-fungible token. It is code that resides in a shared ledger known as the blockchain that validates a piece of digital work as genuine and unique. If something is fungible, it may be replaced with another object that is either identical or of equivalent value. For example, a one-dollar note is fungible. It may be exchanged for a one-dollar note. A non-fungible item is one that has distinct or unique features and cannot be substituted or exchanged for another.
Almost anything may be seen, copied, and extensively distributed over the internet. However, a non-fungible token connected to something on the internet, or in the digital domain, guarantees ownership of the work and confirms it is the original. When a person buys an NFT, they are buying a digital asset that can be purchased and traded.
To sell an NFT, one must first develop an original digital item. The owner of the piece of work may then upload it to the blockchain and establish a minimum price for the NFT as well as a royalty percentage. People can bid on the NFT in an auction that is wholly run by computers once it has been fully uploaded. At the end of the auction, the NFT goes to the highest bidder.
NFT in news publishing
"News is history's manuscript." News organisations have numerous unique content copyrights and have a natural edge when it comes to developing NFTs.
The news media began to test the waters of NFT in 2021. The New York Times was the first to enter the game. Kevin Roose, a columnist for the "New York Times," turned his column into an NFT in March 2021 and auctioned it for a high price of $560,000.
"Time" Weekly's most famous cover is "NFT." The cover of "Time Space Exploration," January 19, 1959 which was auctioned fetching almost $300,000 US dollars.
"Time" Weekly has made fresh creative endeavours using NFT in addition to re-engraving the paper edition. The weekly published a series of NFT pieces named "TIMEPiece" on September 23, 2021, which included 4,676 works from 40 artists. Users who purchase this collection of NFT works will get unrestricted access to the material of Time magazine's official website until the magazine's 100th anniversary.
Benefits of NFT for news organisations
Looking back at the early journalistic coverage on NFTs, most of them were considered experimental at the time. The New York Times, Quartz, and others, for example, have turned news pieces about NFTs into NFTs. The media, as represented by the Associated Press, has started to look into the creation of NFT trading platforms and increasingly diversified NFT goods.
So, what are the reasons that entice news organisations to participate in NFT?
- First and foremost, the marketing value and auction money of publishing NFT works provide the greatest immediate return for the main media. The news industry is now beset by a lack of customers wanting to pay for news and advertisers willing to pay for advertising space, and publishing NFT works can help news organisations generate a significant amount of revenue, allowing them to write more useful content. The money from the sale of NFTs, for example, will be used to encourage genuine and independent journalism, according to the Associated Press.
- Secondly NFTs give a solution for digital news ownership. "The benefit of NFTs is to return ownership back to the media and offer individuals and the work they generate greater value, in addition to being able to earn, but also manage the use of material, licensing, and distribution," says Jarrod Dicker, vice president of business at The Washington Post.
For example, news companies cannot control the reproduction of news reports on an internet platform. In many circumstances, the platform receives the majority of the traffic income. The creation of unique NFT products has become a significant source of revenue for news organisations. Rather than being confusing, the buying and selling borders for content goods will be easy to determine.
- Third, the media contains a huge number of original works that can be transformed into NFTs, and practitioners rapidly realised that this is a viable method of monetising material. Big media, particularly those with significant originality and a lengthy history, have amassed vast amounts of high-quality material, lowering the cost of entering NFTs. More importantly, many of the works are one-of-a-kind.
- Finally, selling NFTs contributes to the strengthening of the link between news organisations and their audiences. When consumers buy news NFTs, they are buying difficult-to-copy column words and photographic images that serve as a status symbol and confirmation of the link between individuals and news organisations.
The NFT market is still in its infancy. The ferocious rise of the digital collection market, hidden behind the growing auction volume, is worth keeping an eye on. NFTs are seen by many collectors as a lucrative investment, similar to Bitcoin, which adds to the uncertainty produced by speculation and excitement. Most new NFTs have a tough time determining their true value, and it's easy to fall into the pit blindly.
Can news organisations look rationally at the hype and financial frauds in the NFT boom when they become NFT developers themselves? Previously, mainstream news outlets were sceptical of, if not outright hostile to, NFTs and cryptocurrencies. Can the media still report on unpleasant occurrences objectively if it becomes a member of the chain of interests in the future? The future holds the answer.