This French daily newspaper sold as an NFT. Is this the media’s future?

The media landscape is being swept by the winds of change. On October 19, the French newspaper “20 Minutes” auctioned its own non-fungible token (NFT) during a charity auction.

The art gallery Piasa in Paris organized the sale of this six-page supplement titled “The Crazy Years of 2020.” The lucky buyer received a €3,000 offer.

A certificate of ownership based on blockchain technology, a “tamper-proof mechanism” that authenticates both virtual currency transactions and purchases of digital items, ensures that the copy is unique.

The funds earned will be donated to the International Federation of Journalists’ Safety Fund (IFJ).

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20 Minutes is a free general news daily that was founded in 2002 and is delivered throughout France.

The issue was picked by the editors and internet users for its “prophetic aspect” and was published on January 13, 2020, just before the COVID-19 epidemic reached France.

This year, the value of NFTs has skyrocketed in international auction houses. NFTs enable the acquisition of any digital item (tweet, photo, animation, video, source code, etc.) through the use of a token that materializes the object and verifies its validity.

20 Minutes, always on the watch for new trends, decided to capture this technological revolution by seeking to market its own NFT.

The newspaper stated, “Through this transaction, the newspaper intends to challenge the value of valuable information.” “While 20 Minutes is a free publication, information comes at a cost.”

“The sale of an NFT looks to be a wonderful method to consider this topic while making crypto-arts understandable to the widest possible audience.”

The New York Times, which opted to offer a photograph of a column as an NFT and sold it for $560,000 (€481,143) in March, was the inspiration for the French newspaper.

A winding path

NFTs may be readily transferred over the Internet using specialized platforms like OpenSea or Raible. In France, however, “the digital representation of a work, and intangible personal property, cannot be included in a voluntary public auction,” according to Piasa.

In May, Cappelaere & Prunaux, a small auction house in Bar-le-Duc (eastern France), surprised everyone by holding an “NFT” auction under the supervision of bailiffs, which was legal.

To get around the prohibition on auctioning “intangible personal property,” 20 Minutes sold “an offset printing plate depicting four pages of the supplement” in addition to the NFT.

The sale profits will benefit the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Safety Fund, an international organization that assists journalists in distress on the job. “With the Afghan situation, the safety fund is more important than ever,” said the project’s initiator, journalist Laure Beaudonnet.

According to Beaudonnet, the construction of the first NFT was “very difficult.” She had to first build a digital wallet, buy ether (the Ethereum blockchain’s money), and then pay the transaction fees to definitively register the digital “contract,” without forgetting to transfer the copyrights connected with the issue.

“If you’re just starting out, you’ll need to spend a few days, and it’s considerably more complex for a firm,” she adds.

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The IFJ distributes €80,000 across the world every year with the security fund, but only collects €12,000 or €13,000 each year in private and public donations, according to 20 minutes.

After yesterday’s sale, this huge envelope might get much bigger owing to NFTs. Is it, however, a long-term solution?

The publication spoke with Frédéric Chambre, CEO of Piasa, about how this sale might be a first in the media scene.

Chambre said, “There was a reflection, a cooperation, and there is the offset printing plate that comes with the NFT.”

“Perhaps we’re on a page of history rather than a page of art history.” The NFT of 20 Minutes is similar to a manuscript in appearance. When you purchase an Einstein manuscript, you are purchasing history. You’re somewhere in the middle with the 20 Minutes project.”

The key difficulty for the CEO is to channel the NFTs: “The NFT must channel itself.” It will no longer have a unique influence if it shoots off in all directions and seeks to affect everything. It must carve out a position in history.”

“Today, we’re more in an NFT system that supplants the artist.” You’ve made an NFT, but it’s the effort that matters. To make it unique, you employ the technologies associated with the NFT.”