Wednesday 3rd April: Automated voices coming to the NYT

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There’s no question the New York Times is one of the leading publishers when it comes to audio innovation. Flagship podcast The Daily is one of the most popular in the world, and its dedicated NYT Audio app was downloaded 1 million times last year.

So why am I slightly underwhelmed by the news that they’re bringing automated voice narrations to their articles? Given the publisher’s vast resources, it’s a little disappointing that they’re not trying something slightly more interesting. A more personalised experience - like selecting a style of narration or customising article feeds - is on the horizon, but with no firm timeline.

I’ve got no issue with opening up access through automated audio articles. It’s great to offer if you can, and many publishers who are experimenting with them have seen real success. But I was really hoping for something more innovative here.

This INMA piece is fascinating, although I suspect the proportion of publishers who actually see password-sharing as a significant issue is overblown (Toolkits research last year actually suggested that most publishers have far more pressing concerns). Here, LeMonde and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung share how they’re tackling password sharing. My favourite takeaway: LeMonde had 20 workers ready to take calls complaining about their own crackdown, but no one called.

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Last week, five of the first seven podcasts promoted on the “browse” carousel in the Apple Podcasts app were participating in Apple’s Subscriptions programme. Does extra promotion like this make paid podcasts worth trying for publishers? Join the conversation.

If you’re following the Trump Media and Technology Group’s public debut and are scratching your head about what it all means, Ian Silvera has done a useful run-down of the business behind Truth Social and similar alt-tech media like Rumble and Parler (which is apparently relaunching for the 2024 elections).

Talking of precipitous falls from dizzying valuations, this is a pretty mind-boggling look at some of the “fanfiction finance” going on behind the scenes at Vice. It describes a “corporate culture with no discernible strategy and little of the necessary financial infrastructure or discipline needed to run a company of its scale.” Ouch.

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