20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

The dawning audio web

“We’re at the beginning of an effort to make the audio web as relevant and as useful as the text web has become.”

This year, podcasts turned 15 years old, and while we are squarely in digital audio’s awkward adolescence, we’re also witnessing the dawn of the audio web.

Podcasting has allowed millions of creators to reach audiences around the world and all of us to listen to what we want when we want it — but that’s just the beginning.

Audio devices like smartphones, smart speakers, and headphones are now everywhere. But today, audio is one-dimensional — you can’t ask questions of a podcast and get answers. Audio isn’t yet interactive, personally relevant, or intelligent. It isn’t easily shareable, and it’s been next to impossible to discover a podcast about the neighborhood you’re walking through or a town you’re driving through. With Andrew Mason’s startup Detour it was possible to imagine what it would be like to stumble across rich audio stories about the world you were traveling through in Google Maps. But that reality hasn’t quite materialized — at least not yet.

Still, what a podcast “can be” and what digital audio “can do” are both expanding. And at Google, we’re at the beginning of an effort to make the audio web as relevant and as useful as the text web has become.

At Google, we’ve taken the first steps to understanding audio and making it searchable and discoverable online. Today, we are indexing and transcribing every story in audio news. This allows us to share audio stories about events that are changing the world right at this moment.

This same technology also allows people to search for podcasts on the web — not just by a show’s title but by searching for whatever they’re curious about. Search for a podcast about CRISPR or the Dirty Kanza gravel bike race and Google will suggest podcasts to answer those questions. Searching through the world’s audio instantly is becoming possible.

We also launched Google’s Your News Update, which we see as a smarter way to listen to the news on the Google Assistant. This approach focuses on discrete, short-form audio stories on an open platform. Today, if you ask Google to play the news, we’ll create a playlist that keeps you up to date with the most important stories in your world. That means, for example, if you’re from Pittsburgh but live in San Francisco, you can get Steelers news along with your breaking national and world news. The product is interactive — you can skip stories — and lets you tell us what you’re interested in so that, over time, we learn what works for you. And you can explore further. Publishers can promote longer podcasts or shows at the end of their stories and people can choose their own listening adventure.

Audio is becoming interactive — this is just the beginning. And these interactive playlists don’t have to be limited to hard news. Imagine how this could work for education, or professional training, or even storytime for children.

As the audio web starts to grow, we want to ensure developers and creators everywhere can take advantage of what’s on offer by enabling an open ecosystem, with open standards and robust analytics. We’re committed to building the tools creators need to set up sustainable businesses that support beautiful and important work — a place where everyone is welcome.

Steve Henn is content strategy lead for audio news at Google.

This year, podcasts turned 15 years old, and while we are squarely in digital audio’s awkward adolescence, we’re also witnessing the dawn of the audio web.

Podcasting has allowed millions of creators to reach audiences around the world and all of us to listen to what we want when we want it — but that’s just the beginning.

Audio devices like smartphones, smart speakers, and headphones are now everywhere. But today, audio is one-dimensional — you can’t ask questions of a podcast and get answers. Audio isn’t yet interactive, personally relevant, or intelligent. It isn’t easily shareable, and it’s been next to impossible to discover a podcast about the neighborhood you’re walking through or a town you’re driving through. With Andrew Mason’s startup Detour it was possible to imagine what it would be like to stumble across rich audio stories about the world you were traveling through in Google Maps. But that reality hasn’t quite materialized — at least not yet.

Still, what a podcast “can be” and what digital audio “can do” are both expanding. And at Google, we’re at the beginning of an effort to make the audio web as relevant and as useful as the text web has become.

At Google, we’ve taken the first steps to understanding audio and making it searchable and discoverable online. Today, we are indexing and transcribing every story in audio news. This allows us to share audio stories about events that are changing the world right at this moment.

This same technology also allows people to search for podcasts on the web — not just by a show’s title but by searching for whatever they’re curious about. Search for a podcast about CRISPR or the Dirty Kanza gravel bike race and Google will suggest podcasts to answer those questions. Searching through the world’s audio instantly is becoming possible.

We also launched Google’s Your News Update, which we see as a smarter way to listen to the news on the Google Assistant. This approach focuses on discrete, short-form audio stories on an open platform. Today, if you ask Google to play the news, we’ll create a playlist that keeps you up to date with the most important stories in your world. That means, for example, if you’re from Pittsburgh but live in San Francisco, you can get Steelers news along with your breaking national and world news. The product is interactive — you can skip stories — and lets you tell us what you’re interested in so that, over time, we learn what works for you. And you can explore further. Publishers can promote longer podcasts or shows at the end of their stories and people can choose their own listening adventure.

Audio is becoming interactive — this is just the beginning. And these interactive playlists don’t have to be limited to hard news. Imagine how this could work for education, or professional training, or even storytime for children.

As the audio web starts to grow, we want to ensure developers and creators everywhere can take advantage of what’s on offer by enabling an open ecosystem, with open standards and robust analytics. We’re committed to building the tools creators need to set up sustainable businesses that support beautiful and important work — a place where everyone is welcome.

Steve Henn is content strategy lead for audio news at Google.

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Joshua Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Kevin D. Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Millie Tran   Wicked

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized