Futures Lab Update #76: Audience Insights, The Upshot and Newsbeat

    by Reuben Stern
    September 25, 2014
    Newsbeat, a new app from the Tribune Company, converts top stories of the day into Pandora-like playlists of spoken-word audio.

    This week we learn how today’s audiences interact with information; how The Upshot approaches data explanation; and how an app called Newsbeat hopes to change audio news.

    "The idea that young people get their news one place and that old people get their news a different place ... is a gross oversimplification." - Tom Rosenstiel, executive director, American Press Institute

    PART 1: Audience insights from ASNE/APME/APPM

    Product development and audience behavior were two key areas of emphasis at last week’s combined gathering of the American Society of News EditorsAssociated Press Media Editors and Associated Press Photo Managers. We sat down with one of the opening session panelists, Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute, to learn more about how audiences today are interacting with news.
    Reporting by Katy Mersmann and Rachel Wise.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]


    Conference roundup:
    Click here for our compilation of key insights culled from Tweets by participants throughout the conference (using Twitter hashtag #editors2014).

    For more coverage:
    A group of journalism students from Ball State University and Columbia College Chicago provided in-depth reporting on conference sessions and activities.

    PART 2: Data and explanation via The Upshot

    The Upshot is a recent addition to the New York Times that mixes data-driven journalism and explanatory reporting to explore the whys and the hows of the news. Neil Irwin, senior economics reporter at The Upshot, explains how the content meets a growing audience demand.
    Reporting by Tatiana Darie.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]


    For more information:
    In this recent Futures Lab update, we look behind the scenes at similar journalistic explainers offered by Vox.com and Bloomberg.

    PART 3: Audio news with Newsbeat

    Newsbeat, an app launched by Tribune Digital Ventures, uses human narration to voice personalized playlists of articles, weather and traffic updates pulled from a catalog of roughly 15,000 articles. We hear how it works from Anil Panguluri, vice president for product at Tribune Digital Ventures and general manager for Newsbeat
    Reporting by Tatiana Darie.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    For more information:

    Other services offer similar functionality, including:

    • Spoken Layer employs a network of humans to help publishers turn their text stories into audio (as explained in our previous report).
    • SoundGecko uses text-to-speech technology to transform web pages into an audio files, enabling users to listen to news, blogs or other online documents.
    • Umano recruits humans to narrate text-based articles. It also allows users to submit articles they think should be voiced, and offers a mobile app where users can build playlists of audio content.

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.


    The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the iPad app to watch the show wherever you go. You can also sign up to receive email notification of each new episode. 

    Tagged: audiences new york times Newsbeat Reynold Journalism Institute tribune company university of missouri upshot

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