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UPDATE

Ben Swann has since released a teaser video about his return:

Independent investigative journalist Ben Swann has returned after his mysterious year-long disappearance, sponsored exclusively by the Dash network.

Swann was the host of Reality Check, a news segment focused on deep investigative journalism into topics often partially or completely ignored by the mainstream media, including some controversial subjects. The show aired for several years before going dark early last winter. After a year-long hiatus, Reality Check’s return has been announced thanks to exclusive funding from the Dash network.

According to Swann, a long-term fan and user of cryptocurrency, Dash has risen above the pack because of its unique features:

“I have been an advocate for cryptocurrencies as well as the blockchain for years (since 2013) and when I was made aware of the Dash treasury, I was intrigued
beyond that, the more I learned about Dash as digital cash, as well as the [InstantSend] technology, I believe that Dash is poised to excel beyond other altcoins because it is technologically superior.”

Using the Dash treasury to form a long-term and secure partnership

The Reality Check relaunch proposal ranks as one of the largest to date in Dash’s history. The show previously reached many millions of viewers, and Swann remains confident that similar results will be achievable with the relaunch. Dash will be the sole sponsor of Reality Check during this new iteration, which will include syndicated videos across other networks, as well as physical appearances by Swann and his team at several cryptocurrency and blockchain events and conferences. Additionally, Dash will serve as the sole sponsor of the Truth in Media website, including co-branded merchandise.

The proposal was launched in December over the holidays, and generated a significant amount of buzz and discussion, including a flurry of questions from the community. Included in these questions was a call for assurance that the Dash network had some sort of guarantee that Swann and his team would be able to deliver, especially since Dash’s funding mechanism is purely protocol-level and does not include any traditional assurance of delivery from contractors such as a legal contract. Swann improvised by drawing up a legal contract with the Dash masternode network as signatories, with a successful “yes” vote to be considered a binding signature, in a unique way of forming a business partnership, according to Swann:

“The experience of seeking the funding was stressful, but we actually approached Dash in a way that no one ever has before, including the creation of a digital contract that utilized blockchain transactions as signatures.”

Despite an initial vigorous debate including some strong dissent, the proposal was overwhelmingly passed and remains 1066 Yes/247 No/12 Abstain.

Overcoming censorship with Dash’s decentralized network

The exclusive sponsorship of Reality Check by the Dash network underscores the technology’s capacity to overcome censorship. Early last year, the final segment of Reality Check aired covering a controversial investigation of a political nature in the US resulted in a media firestorm inlcuding a backlash, after which all of Swann’s social media accounts were taken offline. During the yearlong downtime, many speculated what had happened, with the hashtag #WhereIsBenSwann gaining traction.

Now, the ability to seek funding from the Dash network has considerably facilitated the task of seeking independent funding. Dash is a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and because of its completely decentralized structure, anyone can participate in its ecosystem without seeking permission from any one person or group of people. Because of this, there is no centralized organization that can be intimidated into cutting funding for controversial media, but rather a broad network of thousands of anonymous investors who can fund whatever projects they see fit without fear.

Wikileaks’s founder Julian Assange famously noted how Bitcoin had allowed the organization to not only survive the loss of bank accounts and every other means of donation and payment, but to prosper:

Dash follows the same model, only with the added benefit of having a built-in organization that can provide consistent, recurring, and significant funding to partners, rather than having to rely on third parties or an external crowdfunding model. According to Swann, the process of funding media projects via a decentralized network changes the whole prospect for censoring controversial media:

“It was an intense process to deal with so many people simultaneously but it was also exhilarating to be part of something so groundbreaking. To fund a media project entirely with crypto demonstrates the power of this currency goes far beyond just financial… it is changing power structures in many industries.”