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Smart speakers get smarter

“There might be a dozen great new shows hidden inside your Google Home or lurking in Alexa’s brain — but if you don’t know how to ask a smart speaker for them, by name, you may never find them.”

For almost 100 years, news on the radio has been the constant companion of billions when their eyes and hands are busy and their minds are curious. 2019 will be the year radio — at least on smart speakers — begins to change in profound ways. Soon, we’ll be able to ask our smart speakers questions and have them answered not in a robot’s voice, but by connecting us with beautifully told stories. Broadcasts will begin on our schedule, when we’re ready to listen. They’ll speak to our unique interests and answer our questions. 2019 will be the year when Google and news partners all over the world will create a new interactive “radio.” Together, we’re building a new format that can listen to questions and connect listeners with answers.

For decades, starting a radio show was hard — there were gatekeepers and new shows were expensive to launch. Today those barriers to entry have collapsed, and newsrooms around the world are reaching new audiences and giving their work a powerful new voice.

The number of great audio journalism programs is exploding, and the line between newspapers and broadcasters is blurring. In less than two years, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vox, Axios, Gannett, and The Guardian have all launched new daily news podcasts. NPR, ABC, and the CBC have expanded their digital-first work as well.

While podcasting has created a wealth of new programs, radio journalism is not dead. It’s thriving. And smart speakers still face some big challenges. There might be a dozen great new shows hidden inside your Google Home or lurking in Alexa’s brain — but if you don’t know how to ask a smart speaker for them, by name, you may never find them.

Unlike conventional radios, smart speakers don’t have dials you can flip through to find something new. There is no “Discover Weekly” for news or podcasts. Spotify’s suggested playlists don’t really exist this world…yet. In 2019, the Google News Initiative is funding 40 smart-speaker projects in 10 languages with publishers and broadcasters from 19 countries. And we’re prototyping a new way to listen to the news on smart speakers and using artificial intelligence to make the experience better every time you tune in.

We believe that together, we can build a new kind of experience will allow listeners to explore the expanding world of audio journalism — and help publishers and broadcasters discover new devoted fans.

Steve Henn is news content lead for Google Assistant.

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Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Hearken   Pivot to people

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves