Google Digital News Initiative: Part 2 – Artificial Intelligence and the future of storytelling.

03.07.2019 · By Farah Khalique

Stories are what make us human. Chances are in the past hour, you’ve read a story, told one or conjured one up in your mind. Brexit, your boss, the Ted Bundy Tapes, last night’s date, tomorrow’s date – we never run out of stories.

The art of storytelling has evolved from crude cave paintings to the written word. What’s the next frontier? Will robots take over and churn out news and fiction by the microsecond? Not just yet. But artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way storytellers find and share the millions of stories published every day. 

The Google News Initiative

The Google News Initiative is a key driver behind this shift. In Europe, Google’s €94m Digital News Innovation (DNI) Fund has financed companies large and small that are, among other things, working to pioneer tech like AI to help journalists work faster and smarter. The DNI fund is also helping publishers boost revenues amidst squeezed margins, tell local stories and combat fake news.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales won €385,000 for his vision to elevate “evidence-based journalism” through WikiTribune. This is a new take on the news. The platform encourages its audience to help in the reporting process and fight fake news. Rather than churn out articles at lightning speed, its volunteers look under the bonnet of headline stories. They set about proofreading, fact-checking and editing, as well as adding new sources. 

Publishers paving the way

Well-researched, independent journalism is proving to be a hit with readers. This includes successful upstarts like The Intercept and Canada’s National Observer. These publications may be a fraction of the size of established news outlets, but with the right plumbing, they can thrive.

WordPress, the open source content management system that claims to power nearly a third of the web, wants to help power these sorts of small and medium-sized players with its new toolkit, Newspack. It has partnered with News Revenue Hub – a non-profit that helps publishers find their financial footing – to develop a toolkit that costs as little as $1,000. The idea is to help publishers get off the ground quickly. Google is on board; Newspack has got financial backing to the tune of $2.4 million from the Google News Initiative, Lenfest Institute, Knight Foundation and more.

AI-powered writing

The DNI fund is also powering the advancement of the written word through artificial intelligence, by funding forward-thinking publishers. TRUE 212 has secured funding from both Google’s DNI fund and Innovate UK to develop proprietary AI-powered editorial research assistant products for bloggers, journalists, editors and content marketers. Our LOYAL AI Editorial Research Assistants are designed to save time on menial tasks like sourcing pictures, finding hyperlinks and insights to assist research tasks. In turn, leaving writers with more time and creative headspace to investigate, write and engage with their audiences. 

Editorial tools for the future

LOYAL AI can help sync an individual, brand or organisation’s social media feeds and match the right social media assets like tweets to its written content, in real-time. In addition, news feeds and insights are integrated into our products giving journalists, bloggers and content marketers faster access to fresh perspectives and insights as they create their stories.

The Facebook and Google duopoly is turning traditional media on its head, forcing writers to work faster and smarter, while also spurring the growth of newer voices in the media. TRUE 212, via our LOYAL AI Editorial Research Assistants are at the forefront of this evolution, offering writers the tools to be part of a new era of storytelling.