When organizations use chatbots, it is usually to advertise their products, deliver information on promotions, or handle customer service. These chatbots work “on-demand” i.e. only when you need them. You need movie recommendations only when you want to watch a movie. You want hotel deals only when you are traveling. So, you are creating a need to which the chatbots cater.
Now, the news is a different ballgame altogether. It changes every single day. Also, people want to know stories as and when they occur. They don’t have the time to tune into a news channel on television and wait for events to unfold. There is also limited interaction between the newsroom and its viewers. You can overcome these issues using chatbots. Major publications such as CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Quartz, and TechCrunch are making use of these virtual assistants to push news to consumers.
But, the question is, how can chatbots improve the way you interact with and experience the news on a daily basis? Listed below are four ways in which chatbots can change the way online news publications reach their audience.
- Detecting “fake” news
While currently in the spot-light, fake news is not something that came up during the last year. It has been doing the rounds ever since news media itself was created. Fake news feed users with misinformation that affects their ability to make rational decisions. For example, if used in election campaigns, it can tip votes in favor of a particular candidate, which would not have happened otherwise. Artificial intelligence, typically chatbots, can be used to detect fake news stories by using algorithms to sort and classify news as being real or fake. This way, readers have access to verified news stories that are true.
- Providing customized news stories
Sometimes, breaking news stories are not of your interest. You may want news alerts only for stories that cater to your preferences, whether they are politics, sports, entertainment, finance etc. Using specific keywords will allow the chatbot to push articles that you want, putting other news stories at the bottom of the list. You can even set the frequency of receiving news stories and specify the time at which you want to receive them.
- Improve user engagement
The conversational nature of chatbots makes them quite appealing to consumers. By being able to get the information you seek simply by having a one-on-one conversation with a 2nd party feels both perfectly intuitive and very natural. In this case, news. Users do not have to rely on robotic search or query terms to interact effectively with a capable chatbot. Open-ended questions are easily answered by them, which adds a more “human” approach to the conversation. A positive experience with such chatbots can improve user engagement. Better user engagement means better awareness about what’s happening in the world.
- Real-time updates
It is important to always have the latest news on a developing story. It allows you to have a clear picture of its progress. Chatbots can be customized to provide updates and alerts on certain events, such as election results. Any progress in the story will be notified as it is updated.
While chatbots can be an asset to the news media, they can become a liability if not programmed correctly. Also, sensitive news has to be delivered with some emotion and depth, which can be a challenge. Chatbots can be developed to understand the mood and feelings of users, as is with Washington Post’s “Feels” chatbot, but responding in an appropriate tone is still an area to be explored. There aren’t many news publications that use chatbots. However, this is likely to soon change owing to the rise of chatbot development in Singapore.
Connecting newsrooms to journalists and users can make news a positive, driving force in the country. Chatbots can, therefore, effectively change the way you perceive and consume information.
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