This article is part of a 10-fraction Digiday series that explores the value of NFTs and blockchain skills. Explore the elephantine series right here.

What had been thought to be the following golden goose to save the media business’s funding models hasn’t yet proven itself. These early efforts to decentralize media — to attach extra vitality in the hands of of us who are paying for notify material — have fizzled, if not outright crashed, placing another lens of uncertainty over how publishers can get a pathway to sustainable earnings.

There have been a series of attempts so far to create media-focused decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs). At the basic premise, DAOs are designed to give all organization stakeholders an equal say in resolution-making and growth strategies — together with subscribed readers. (Read WTF DAOs are right here).

“[DAOs] can give journalists a platform to connect extra straight with their audience and be supported straight for his or her work, [however] DAOs are nascent and experimental in nature,” said Kelsie Nabben, a researcher at RMIT University Blockchain Innovation Hub in Melbourne, Australia, who has written for decentralized publishing platform Assume.XYZ. “Establishing the foundations of [organization], the relationship between the role of of us and the role of code, and actually distributing vitality, is hard.”

If the early entrants are any indicator — the business isn’t there yet.

The early players 


Take TruthDAO — a non-partisan information publication founded in November 2021 that its founders hope will eventually be monetized with a DAO funding model.

The company plans to introduce “membership cards” in the acquire of NFTs later this year, which its audience will purchase to earn a stake in the DAO. It’s not clear how mighty they are going to value but participants will have benefits that mirror those equipped to subscribers of other media retail outlets, together with the ability to ask questions to reporters for the duration of live broadcasts on the Hearth platform and over Discord, strange notify material and discounts on merchandise. In addition, a hotline can be available to participants to put up information guidelines and counsel sources. The cards will also allow holders to vote in certain business choices within the DAO.

The cards will approach in three assorted tiers, giving each stage an increasing series of balloting shares (one vote for the citizen stage, five votes for the ambassador stage and 100 votes for founders).

Membership cards can be advertised when they launch to the company’s 40,000 irascible-platform followers, said co-founder Leslie Cauley, who claimed that though TruthDAO doesn’t generate earnings, the company is financially stable, but did not say the place the money is coming from.

Web3-native companies and enthusiasts are typically advertising-averse, sharing a belief that the fashionable digital advertising model doesn’t reward shoppers for sharing their personal data. But Cauley, who’s a dilapidated journalist at traditional publications fancy USA Today and the Wall Boulevard Journal, is not adversarial to eventually integrating advertising into TruthDAO’s monetization strategy, such as on notify material distributed on ad-supported social platforms.


Another DAO-based publication, PubDAO, launched in October 2021, as an off-shoot of Web3-focused publication Decrypt. It started as a decentralized newswire for other publications to access blockchain-related information, but that didn’t purchase up any steam, nor did it aid a reason for the meant participants, causing Reza Jafrey, neighborhood lead and head of PubDAO, to pivot away from that point of curiosity.

The initial monetization model for PubDAO was going to be selling its participants governance tokens — the typical business model for DAOs — but “the bear market came and really ruined any hopes and dreams of launching a governance token anytime quickly.”

With each original plans scrapped, the organization pivoted into a network to connect vetted freelancers, who have skills in the blockchain, with companies taking a see to purchase Web3-related sponsored notify material. These companies purchase “private pods” and Jafrey assigns one or extra freelance writers to work with the shopper on the particular undertaking they purchased as a part of that pod.

A fraction of the money earned from the sales of private pods is used to fund the general public pods, which are non-paid pods used to get projects and create public domain notify material aimed at improving the Web3 space. Jafery, whose job contains “understanding what decentralized media means and then trying to flip that into merchandise,” did not say what those earnings figures were or how mighty a private pod is, but the individual mark point for sponsored notify material posts from private pods ranges from $300 to $1,000 per fraction.

There are 80 writers who have joined the network and three companies in the blockchain business have signed on to pay for private pods, though Jafery did not provide particular names.


Assume is without doubt one of many extra established decentralized media organizations founded in 2020 and serves as a publishing platform for writers. It’s been called the Medium of Web3 and its users can create a publication on the blockchain, start a crowdfund, flip articles into NFTs, gather guidelines and break up proceeds among contributors. MirrorDAO is a part of the platform and has a vague mission of “creating great stories together,” according to its web status, but all of its participants encourage a $WRITE token that’s awarded to top writers on Assume by other participants of the DAO. Assume’s founder Denis Nazarov did not acknowledge to a search information from for comment for this story. 

Integrating DAO 

Giving up the resolution-making autonomy of a traditional business model in exchange for a member-supported earnings stream comes with anticipated challenges, from how to accommodate balloting time without delaying business trend to creating rifts between participants who disagree on choices.

While decentralization is the top goal, PubDAO can be race by a centralized vitality at its start. The draw of decentralization has to happen slowly and will depend upon a small neighborhood of leaders to resolve out how governance appears for the organization, according to Alanna Roazzi-Laforet, writer and CRO of Decrypt.

For media companies in particular, giving any fraction of editorial regulate to non-journalists calls into demand whether or not journalistic ethics can be upheld.

It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Crypto publication CoinDesk is not a DAO, nor does it have an adjacent DAO neighborhood, but as it builds out its participation token DESK, which rewards readers for engaging with the media company, there are aspects of a DAO model that start to bleed into the image — namely, giving DESK holders balloting rights over notify material and match programming.

For example, at the publication’s Consensus conference next year, Ewen said his team may reserve five on-stage sessions that DESK holders can program by balloting on the topic or speaker. But there are limitations to how mighty say readers ought to get in what is traditionally an editorial accountability. 

“I don’t deem there’s any reason that [CoinDesk] necessarily would turn into a DAO,” said Sam Ewen, svp and head of CoinDesk Studios. “We smooth are trying to race a business and [DAOs are] a bit of a assorted business model. But DAO constructions can assist us get extra linked and [to a] deeper stage with our readers. I fancy the idea of giving them extra agency over what and how we’re creating for them.”

Crypto enthusiasts want publishers to move into Web3 with DAOs, but it’s not yet a successful business model