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DW's NFT auction in support of press freedom

Nicolas Martin | Andreas Becker
November 15, 2021

Can you report on new financial technology and secure money for a worthy cause at the same time? DW is trying to do exactly that by auctioning off a nonfungible token. A what?

PressFreedomX30 is DW's first nonfungible token to be auctionedImage: Marc Löricke/DW

Press freedom is in jeopardy in many parts of the world. In a likely nod to this, Maria Ressa from the Philppines and Dmitry Muratov from Russia were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021. The investigative journalists were honored for their commitment to the freedom of expression as a prerequisite for democracy and lasting peace.

Right now, 339 journalists around the globe are behind bars, along with some 100 bloggers, citizen journalists and media employees, according to the organization Reporters Without Borders (RWB). That's a sharp increase from 2020, a record year itself. In addition to those in prison, more than 30 journalists have been killed in 2021 so far.

Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov
Being a journalist can be dangerous, as Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov have experienced time and again

Auction for press freedom

To show our respect for our colleagues around the world, DW has produced a video displaying "freedom of the press" written in 30 languages our organization works in. We are launching an auction of this video, with the proceeds going to Reporters Without Borders.

Our initiative was prompted by a wish to learn more about a promising phenomenon: The video that we're putting up for auction is backed with a so-called nonfungible token (NFT).

NFTs could be described as a digital certificate of authenticity. The technology confirms that a piece of digital data, which can usually be freely copied, is an original work, distinguishing it from copies. The whole concept works on the basis of blockchain technology, the same tech that hosts cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Are cryptocurrencies worth the ride?

Millions for pixels

NFTs have created huge hype recently, with some digital originals changing hands for incredible amounts of money. In March of this year, a digital picture collage by US artist Beeple was auctioned for some $69 million (€60 million), making the little-known Beeple the third-most expensive living artists behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney. It was the first time that Christie's — the renowned auction house — had agreed to auction off a nonfungible token.

But most NFTs are auctioned on specialized internet platforms. There's a lot of money there, too. You could buy, for instance, a self-portrait by whistleblower Edward Snowden, video clips about sports events or internet memes such as videos featuring cats. But there's real art, too. Even the NFT of a New York Times page with a text on the phenomenon of digital art pulled in record proceeds.

DW NFT auction platform
Nothing goes without this digital platform for DW's NFT auctionImage: DW


In future articles we'll explain how the technology behind NFTs works and what experiences we've had with it. We'll also look into why some people pin great hopes on NFTs while others consider them to be Ponzi schemes and climate killers.

DW's NFT is called PressFreedomX30 and is meant to provide us with insights into the NFT phenomenon. We hope it'll be an exciting experience, just like the first sale on eBay back in 1995 or a test drive in the first Tesla car in 2008.

If you want to take part in the auction, you'll need a digital wallet that accepts Ether. And here's the link to the auction:


Our auction kicks off on November 16, 2011, at 17:00 hours (CET). The auction ends 24 hours after the first bid.

The proceeds (minus the fee for the auction platform) go to Reporters Without Borders (RWB Germany). The nongovernmental organization documents violations of press freedom globally and supports persecuted journalists.

This article has been adapted from German.