Innovation in 2017

Technology in Journalism

Written by Amber Craig

Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon which uses Amazon Echo smart speaker. Its capabilities include voice interaction, music playback, streaming podcasts and provides weather, traffic and news.  Alexa’s source of news is provided by TuneIn which is an audio streaming service providing live news, radio and sports, plus music, podcasts and audiobooks.  It has an audience of over 60 million monthly active users across the world. TuneIn’s directory supports are large list of sports, news, talk, and music from around the world.  

It’s available on the web plus a suite of mobile apps and also available in over 50 models of cars.  Although these technologies are still in their infancy, voice-activated digital assistants like the Amazon Echo smart speaker are emerging as a new platform for news, which are already gaining higher sales than smart-watches in the U.S. and U.K.  This was a finding from Oxford’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism Digital News Report 2017.

This report also highlighted an interesting fact whereby people aged 18-24 in the USA, have increased their subscriptions to news from 4% in 2016 to 18% in 2017.  Respondents to the survey for the report said they wanted to fund journalism.  Coupled with the technologies of personal assistants like Alexa, consumers of news are able to funnel their consumption of news conveniently and with ease, plus are willing to pay for the service.

Photography is also another very deeply interwoven technology coiled around journalism.  As humans, we are incredibly visual creatures, taking much of our information through this particular physical sense.  Combining this media form with journalism demands a strict framework.  This is to ensure the image is honest and unbiased whilst ensuring the story is told with journalistic values.

An image can be incredibly powerful and sometimes where people are no longer reading about a subject, they may see an image which jolts them out of apathy.  One example of this was the drowning death of three year Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi.  The photo of his body lying on a beach shocked the world.  Through this image, the world bared witness to the horrendous cost these people were paying trying to flee their home because of the war in Syria.  It jolted people out of their apathy towards this issue and in the aftermath, launched it back on to the international political stage.  One charity, Migrant Offshore Aid Station received an enormous increase in donations 24 hours after the photo was published and credits it with the surge.


About the author

Amber Craig