New York Times to Track Photojournalism Using Blockchain

Samuel Haig

The New York Times Company has announced that it is working on a project that seeks to combat fake news using IBM’s blockchainplatform, IBM Garage.

New York Times to Fight News Image Manipulation Using DLT

The undertaking, called ‘The News Provenance Project’, was spearheaded by The New York Times’ research and development team. The project’s first endeavor will target photojournalism, with the publication highlighting the ease with which images can be manipulated and then widely distributed “with few brakes applied from social platforms, messaging apps or search engines.“

The project hopes to examine the consumer response to having access to greater information pertaining to news images and to learn more about the potential applications for blockchain technology within the journalism industry.

The New York Times states that it was attracted to distributed ledger technology due to such allowing records to be traceable. By publishing news images on a distributed ledger, the company hopes that audiences will be able to easily determine the course of a photo and whether or not it has been edited after its initial publication.

The publication stated its belief that “attributes of blockchain technology show promise in developing a workable solution.” The project plans to use Hyperledger Fabric, a permissioned and private blockchain platform, in conjunction with IBM Garage.

The first phase of the project is slated to until late 2019, during which the publication hopes to design a proof-of-concept on Hyperledger Fabric.

News Provenance Project Seeks to Collaborate With Other Media Outlets

While the project will be operated from within the New York Times Company, the firm notes that the project’s successful implementation will “require collaboration and use among many organizations.” In particular, the company hopes to attract participation from new outlets that “publish original photos and that serve different audiences from The Times’.

The New York Times’ interest in distributed ledger technology was revealed in March following the publication’s publishing a job listing seeking hire a blockchain lead for 12 months. The lead  would be tasked with “help[ing] envision and design a blockchain-based proof of concept for news publishers,” in addition to “codify[ing] the vision for the project,” develop[ing] a succinct description of the problem space we’re focused on,” and “develop[ing] a roster of advisors from news organizations, academia, and social media companies.”