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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.

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

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

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

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

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

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

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

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

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

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

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

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

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

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

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

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

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

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

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

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

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

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

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

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

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

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

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

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

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

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

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

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

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

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

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

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

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

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

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

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

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

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

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

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

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

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

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

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

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

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

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

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

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

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration