Tribune builds robot to read the news

Advertising Age

Robots that write stories are so two days ago. Newsbeat, a new app from the Tribune Company, “uses voice-over artists and a robot to read news stories,” Michael Learmonth reports. Here’s what it sounds like reading the headline and lead of a Los Angeles Times story:

“We had been looking at our key asset, which is news and what we could do with that asset,” Tribune Digital Ventures honcho Shashi Seth tells Learmonth. Voice artists “read the top-100 or so stories,” Learmonth writes.

The rest are read by a Siri-like text-to-speech technology, which reads the top couple paragraphs of each story. The system has some intelligence built in to know that in a sports story, for example, a dash means “to,” and to read “California” where the dateline says “Calif.”

Newsbeat’s business model is radio ads. “I think something like this creates a whole new industry, much like Pandora and Spotify have done for music,” Seth says.

Related training: Data Journalism for Your Beat and Newsroom

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  • SteveAuerweck

    Not really new. National Federation of the Blind here in Baltimore set up Newsline, its dialup text-to-speech system, back in 1995. I worked with them to add The Baltimore Sun, pre-Tribune, about a year later. https://nfb.org/audio-newspaper-service

  • moronthatlater

    I approve.