Global News Access: The Impact of New Communications Technologies

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Another key weapon in the battle for paying eyeballs will be bundling. Local newspaper partnership will also play a role. Expect to see more bundling deals in and especially with utility, phone, and pay TV companies looking to provide more lock-in value for customers. Concerns about misinformation and market failure in commercial local news provision should be rallying support for public media, but populist politicians and strains on public funding are pushing hard in the opposite direction. It is highly possible that a referendum in Switzerland in March to scrap the compulsory broadcasting fee will pass — reshaping the media landscape.

Populist pressures are building elsewhere with a right-wing Danish party proposing scrapping of the licence fee there. In Eastern and Central Europe public broadcasters increasingly serve as promotional arms of their governments. Licence fee money has already been top-sliced to pay for local journalists in newspaper newsrooms. I am increasingly worried there may be little long-term survival for most commercial media, but that they may try to drag public service media down with them in an effort to gain traction for paywalls, leaving the public with no strong media at all in the longer term.

UK based publisher.

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Just when we thought digital advertising was finished, could see a partial revival of its fortunes. The advent of browsers that automatically block overly intrusive advertising is the culmination of several years of work from the Coalition for Better Ads, an alliance of platforms, industry bodies, advertisers, and publishers. On the way out are ads that flash, autoplay sound and video, and those that take over the page.

Retargeting of ads across websites will also become much harder in Europe after GDPR regulations come into place in May. Worries about ads being placed next to poor-quality content could also help publishers sell premium advertising either on their own or in alliance with others. More publishers are likely to pull away from automated ad exchanges to focus on higher quality premium experiences. The Chrome web-browser incorporates ad-blocking by default from mid-February. By addressing the worst abuses, Google hopes it can stop users from downloading stronger third-party tools e.

Brave and Cliqz that block its own ads and tracking systems. This strips out advertising, branding, and contextual related links, which may have a more detrimental effect on publishers. The greatest threat to the so-called duopoloy looks set to come from Amazon in Brands say they are planning to invest more in Amazon ads around its shopping search engine and live streaming of NFL games opens up new advertising opportunities.

Amazon will overtake Twitter and Snapchat in advertising revenue in That will also mean fewer journalists. These could be around advertising alliances Portuguese publishers, Schibsted in Norway and Sweden , content BBC and local news , selling subscriptions Washington Post and local papers , or technology solutions Washington Post and Globe and Mail in Canada. This could be the year when media companies recognise how critical data will be to their future success. This is the next battleground for media — and having the right data infrastructure and skills will be the key to making it work.

As one example, UK publisher the Daily Telegraph wants to grow registered readers to 10m as it moves away from a mass reach strategy to one based on maximising revenue from a smaller number of logged in users.


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This has already delivered 23m registered users, creating the conditions for BBC News and Sport to also deliver more personalised recommendations on the website, in the app, or via mobile notifications. Elsewhere e.

Norway publishers are looking at collective national registration schemes to provide better scaled data that can compete with Facebook. One additional factor pushing sign-in is upcoming European regulations that require publishers to gain explicit permission from readers to contact them. Publishers will also be required to provide mechanisms e.

A requirement for clearer and simpler privacy policies and the right to transfer or have data deleted is also part of the package. As with much new regulation, it is not entirely clear what compliance will mean or how strictly it will be enforced. The biggest impact of GDPR could be on consumer experience, with irritating messages asking for permission and new opportunities to forget passwords.

In terms of the economic effects, GDPR could favour premium publishers that have enough trust to obtain consumer consent, leaving other sites struggling with less valuable advertising lower CPMs and a loss of and economic competitiveness.

By Simon Cottle and David Nolan

With tech firms betting their future on AI, publishers are also looking to understand how this range of complex technologies could be deployed in their businesses. Surprisingly, almost three-quarters of those we surveyed said they were already using some kind of artificial intelligence, by which we mean computers that learn over time — independently — to improve outcomes. Respondents told us about projects to optimise marketing, to automate fact-checking, and to speed up tagging and metadata. Onward links are currently added manually or with simple CMS logic, with most users seeing the same stories, but AI could change this.

A new recommendation service called Jame s, being developed by The Times and Sunday Times for News UK , will aim to learn about individual preferences and automatically personalise each edition in terms of format, time, and frequency.

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The algorithms will be programmed by humans but will improve over time by the computer itself working to a set of agreed outcomes. These combine ideas of general relevance and personal relevance so individuals are not caught in a filter bubble but are still exposed to more content that they might enjoy. But some go much further. Replika is an AI assistant that, with a bit of training, picks up your moods, preferences, and mannerisms until it starts to sound like you and think like you.

In the future, maybe it could mimic your posts on Twitter and Facebook — and keep doing it while you are asleep. AI can also help journalists fact-check political claims in real time — possibly even while conducting a live radio or TV interview.

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International Journalism: Global Reach, Global Impact

Start-up Factmata is deploying Natural Language Processing NLP with previously fact-checked databases of political claims to test this kind of service. They are due to be released at the end of This work is being done with partners in Argentina and South Africa. The use of algorithms to recognise patterns in data and make predictions machine learning is also being used to drive commercial decisions. This already tells Amazon the sort of books you like based on previous purchases.

Applying this to news, AI driven paywalls will be able to identify likely subscribers and based on previous behaviour serve up the offer and wording most likely to persuade them to subscribe. Another use will be to create more personalised advertisements or push e-commerce recommendations based on previous interest shown in particular brands or types of responses. News organisations know they have to do more with less; they have to find ways of making journalists more productive without leading to burn out.

Intelligent automation IA is one way to square this circle. As one example, the Press Association PA in the UK has been working with Urbs media to deliver hundreds of semi-automated stories for local newspaper clients. In example below a journalist finds a story using one or more publicly available datasets NHS and population data. The journalist then writes a generic story that is then versioned automatically by the computer to create multiple bespoke versions for different local publications.

Another potential usage of AI is for reporting of live events. Executive Editor of Quartz, Zach Seward, recently gave a speech in China at a conference organised by tech giant Tencent. This was turned into a news story by a combination of AI based speech to text software, automatic transcription, and an automated newswriting programme called Dreamwriter. Around 2, pieces of news on finance, technology, and sports are created by Dreamwriter daily.

Another early example of intelligent automation is Perspective, an AI powered tool developed by Google-offshoot Jigsaw to help improve moderation of comments. This uses machine-learning models to score the perceived impact a comment might have on a conversation. Jigsaw believes that this human inspired collective intelligence will be far more powerful than existing efforts to stop trolls, but critics argue that early results show the dangers of algorithms mirroring existing biases by marking down comments containing words like black and gay.

These are early days for AI and freeing the internet from trolls will be one of the hardest nuts to crack. Jigsaw stresses that these systems will only be part of the answer and are designed to help humans do their jobs more efficiently. But as AI assisted moderation becomes widespread, expect to hear more concerns about censorship and greater calls for transparency. These stand-alone devices are reshaping home ecosystems, with voice becoming an increasingly important way of managing entertainment and controlling smart systems like lights and heating.


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These systems are taking off in the home first because there is less social stigma than in other locations and because voice is proving a quick and convenient way of managing a range of tasks. While other players were focusing on the smartphone, Amazon has been building a powerful position as the lynchpin of the connected home.

This year will see the smart speaker wars hotting up further, with Amazon and Google facing competition from Sonos, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, and possibly Facebook. This really matters because many see AI-powered smart speakers as an increasingly important gateway to the home, not just for media but for commerce and communication too.

These devices are already changing consumer behaviour, with media content a main beneficiary. All of this will increase the disruption of radio schedules and stimulate more on-demand audio usage. Many of us continue to underestimate the acceleration of voice use in the home and on mobile. Some of these devices will have screens but it marks a clear departure from dense text as a way to convey information.

It can afford to give away its devices and its technology, undercutting its rivals, because the money is made elsewhere. Speech input is three times faster than typing on a mobile device, but speech output is far less efficient than reading from a screen.

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This is why more smart speakers will come with some kind of visual display in This will also open up new functionality such as video calling or monitoring smart home cameras — as well as offering opportunities for less intrusive notifications. Amazon will launch its first branded home security cameras that will link to its video enabled speakers this year. Look out for innovative formats that go beyond using these devices for distribution. Share the Facts consolidates a range of US-based fact-checkers into a single Alexa service that responds to questions.

Expect to see far more voice driven bots that answer questions or interact in new ways this year, not least because tools like Dexter make it simple to turn existing text bots into Alexa skills.

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More widely, expect technology solutions that make it easier to create experiences on different platforms e. Alexa, Siri, Cortana, etc. The BBC has created its own cross-platform engine for interactive stories but expect market solutions to emerge in Global smartphone growth is slowing. But despite this, our dependence on these devices is growing. In countries like the US we have reached the tipping point with smartphones now preferred by as many people as computers for news.

This growing importance matters because these devices are personally addressable in a way the computer never really was, but also because the smaller screen is changing the formats of news and information more generally.

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