Wick Communications

Alexa, tell me the news

In Innovation on May 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

I don’t have a voice-activated device like Google Home or Amazon Echo. In fact, I live in Silicon Valley and I’m not sure I know anyone who has one. That said, these things are coming and they may well turn out to be useful home appliances and not simply parlor toys.

That is why some smart organizations — including Gatehouse Media — are experimenting with producing audio news reports that can be read on these things. The idea is that you might tell Amazon Echo to read your local news and it might deliver a news summary from your local newspaper. NPR has secured the default placement with Amazon and now a familiar human voice reads that news rather than the weird robot voice you would expect from these things.

The potential is huge; the known is nil.

Gatehouse Media’s Bill Church told Rick Edmonds at Poynter: “It’s product first, then audience, and monetization later.” Hmmm… where have we heard that before?

I have a bias against audio reports of the news. I find print, video or photo presentations a lot easier to skip through and past. I open a newspaper and I get clues by placement, headline and photos about whether the gatekeeper thinks this is important for me to know or whether it’s something of lesser importance. I listen to NPR for hours on end in the car, but that’s because can’t do much else. When I hear a podcast, it is an immersive experience. Unfortunately, I don’t have time nor inclination for too many immersive experiences. What about you? …

But that’s just me. The Anchorage Press is doing impressive things with podcasts through the Soundcloud platform. If we all find a Google Home under the Christmas tree this year, it could be the golden age of something like radio all over again.

Clay

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