Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A reporter in a rural district of India uses WhatsApp to broadcast local news — and makes money doing it
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
July 19, 2016, 12:45 p.m.
Mobile & Apps
LINK: kik.me  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   July 19, 2016

The dream of the chat bot is alive at CNN. On Monday, CNN launched its latest attempt at conversational news with a bot on chat app Kik. As with CNN’s previous effort on Facebook Messenger, the Kik bot will let users get the latest stories in a conversational format that’s meant to feel at home on mobile devices. Kik, which launched its Bot Shop back in April, already counts Yahoo News, Mic, and The Wall Street Journal as publishers developing bots for its platform.

CNN launched the Kik project with an interactive explainer feature about the ongoing Republican convention, which users can learn more about by tapping a series of conversation prompts that offer specific details about what goes on at the event, how long it lasts, who attends, and where the current one is being held.

CNN-kikThat kind of information might be basic for seasoned political news junkies, but CNN is approaching the Kik project with the assumption that “the audience there is very young and might not understand as much of what is going on in the news and what it means,” said Masuma Ahuja, CNN’s social apps producer and lead on the news organization’s chat app efforts.

Like Snapchat, Kik has become a go-to chat app for teenagers, who represent around half of the app’s userbase. This understanding means that CNN plans to lean heavily on explainer formats that break big stories down to their basic parts — without assuming that users have been following the news for years prior.

Beyond the interactive features, CNN’s Kik bot will also recommend stories to readers based on previous stories that they’ve read.

CNN’s Kik effort is the latest in a string of uneven attempts at chatbots from news organizations. CNN in particular has gotten some flak for its Facebook Messenger bot, which users have critiqued for being spammy and, at times, sluggish. While publisher chat bots made a big splash on Facebook messenger in April, few so far have lived up to the hype.

Ahuja said that CNN, like all news organizations, is still figuring the best formula for chat bots. “It’s a constant learning process. This type of storytelling isn’t new in and of itself, but we’re finding new ways of doing it,” she said.

Show tags Show comments / Leave a comment
 
Join the 35,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
A reporter in a rural district of India uses WhatsApp to broadcast local news — and makes money doing it
Shivendra Gaur’s Rocket Post Live has already gained 8,000 paying subscribers for rolling news alerts and a daily video bulletin.
War on the Rocks is a national security site for a military “tribe” that knows what it’s talking about
“If every guy that needs something to do for 30 seconds on his phone starts reading War on the Rocks, we’re doing something wrong. I want this to be a publication that you need if you work on national security.”
From the unbanked to the unnewsed: Just doing good journalism won’t be enough to bring back reader trust
Journalists see readers’ consumption decisions through the lens of quality. But that’s only a small part of what builds a connection between a news organization and an audience.