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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.

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Hearken   Pivot to people

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

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

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

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

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

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

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

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

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

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

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

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

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

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

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

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

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

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

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

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

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

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

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

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

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

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

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

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

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

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

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

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

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

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

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

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

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

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Kevin D. Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

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

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

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

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

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

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

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

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

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

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

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

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video