Blogging for Bitcoin goes bust for some journalists

Civil Media’s risky scheme to pay journalists across its newsrooms in cryptocurrency is on the rocks.

It’s no secret that journalism is struggling, leaving platforms and publications looking for alternate visions of publishing – and, apparently, payment schemes. Civil Media, the online publishing platform, had hatched a plan to cash in on its own cryptocurrency, which it called “tokens,” in order to pay its journalists, who write for websites like Popula, Sludge, and 16 other newsrooms.

The cryptocurrency was given to journalists as a significant part of their compensation – although they had some say over how much of a part – and they were told it would increase in value, reported CoinDesk. But last month, Civil’s token funding sale failed to reach its goal of $8 million, securing only half.

Now journalists who agreed to take part of their salary in tokens have been left out in the cold, realizing that they’re worth far less than they believed and that with no hard plan for another sale and no plan for distribution, they may be without a way to get paid for their work. Some are claiming that Civil exaggerated the valuation of the possibilities of the cryptocurrency portion of their salaries.

Former Sludge writer Jay Cassano recently left the site because 70% of his salary was tied up in cryptocurrency tokens, he said in a series of Tweets, adding that he felt that himself and the other writers had been “defrauded by the company.”

Civil’s money problems go beyond cryptocurrency – Neiman Lab claims to have evidence of at least one missed payroll this year. Last month, Civil promised another token sale in “weeks, not months,” but there’s no guaranteed financial outcome, of course.

While alternative currencies are nothing new, it’s advisable to insist that your paycheck come in the form of normal currency – not collectible coins, crypto, or Disney Dollars.