This French daily sold as NFT. Is this the future of media?

The winds of change are blowing through the media landscape. The French daily “20 Minutes” sold its own non-fungible token (NFT) at a charity auction on October 19.

The sale of this six-page supplement entitled “The Crazy Years 2020” was organized by the Piasa art gallery in Paris. The successful buyer won the auction for € 3,000.

The copy is guaranteed to be unique thanks to a certificate of ownership based on blockchain technology, a “tamper-proof system” that authenticates both virtual currency transactions and sales of digital objects.

The money raised will go to the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Safety Fund.

When a free daily enters the crypto market

20 Minutes is a general news daily, created in 2002 and distributed free of charge in all French cities.

Published on January 13, 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit France, the number was chosen by editors and Internet users for its “prophetic side”.

NFTs have seen their value soar this year in foreign auction houses. NFTs allow you to acquire any digital object (tweet, photo, animation, video, source code …) thanks to a token, which materializes this object and proves its authenticity.

On the lookout for emerging phenomena, 20 Minutes wanted to document this technological revolution by trying to sell its own NFT.

“Through this sale, the newspaper wishes to question the value of quality information”, specifies the newspaper. “20 Minutes is a free newspaper for its readers, but the information comes at a cost.

“The sale of an NFT appears to be an excellent way to reflect on this question while making crypto-arts intelligible to as many people as possible.

The French newspaper was inspired by the New York Times, which decided to sell an image of a column like NFT and sold it for $ 560,000 (€ 481,143) in March.

A bumpy road

On the Internet, NFTs are easily exchanged via specialized platforms such as OpenSea Where Rare. However, in France, “the digital representation of a work, of an intangible movable good, cannot be part of a voluntary sale at public auction”, specified Piasa.

In May, a modest auction house, Cappelaere & Prunals, in Bar-le-Duc (East of France), created a surprise by launching an “NFT” auction, but under the aegis of bailiffs, which made it possible under the law.

To circumvent the ban on auctioning “intangible movable property”, 20 Minutes sold, in addition to the NFT, “an offset printing plate containing four pages of the supplement”.

Proceeds from the sale will go to the Safety Fund of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), an international organization that helps struggling journalists on the ground. “With the Afghan crisis, the security fund is more relevant than ever,” said journalist Laure Beaudonnet, at the origin of the project.

The creation of the first NFT was “quite complicated,” admits Beaudonnet. She first had to create a digital wallet, buy ether (the cryptocurrency used by the Ethereum blockchain), then pay the transaction fees to permanently register the digital “contract”, not forgetting to cede the copyrights associated with the program.

“You have to spend a few days there if you’re just starting out, and it’s even more complicated for a business,” she explains.

Are NFTs the Future of Journalism?

With the security fund, the IFJ sends an average of € 80,000 around the world each year, but receives private and public donations barely reaching € 12,000 or € 13,000 per year, 20 minutes marked.

This large envelope, after yesterday’s auction, could grow thanks to NFTs. But is this a lasting solution?

The newspaper interviewed Frédéric Room, CEO of auction house Piasa, on how this sale could be a first in the media landscape.

“There was a reflection, a collaboration, there is the offset printing plate that comes with the NFT,” Chamber said.

“Perhaps we are on a page in history more than in the history of art. The 20 Minute NFT can almost be compared to a manuscript. When you buy an Einstein manuscript, you are buying history. With the 20 Minutes project, you are somewhere in between.

For the CEO, the main challenge is to channel the NFTs: “The NFT needs to channel itself. If it goes all over the place and wants to touch everything, it will no longer have a singular impact. It must find its place in history.

“Today, we are more in a NFT system which supplants the artist. You’ve created an NFT, but what’s important is the work. You use the technology related to NFT to make it unique.

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