News UK CTO Christina Scott on importance of AI, VR and synthetic media for the newsroom

News UK CTO Christina Scott has revealed how the company is incorporating emerging technologies like AI, VR and synthetic media into newsrooms.

Speaking at the Change 2020 forum, in comments reported by new Press Gazette sister website Tech Monitor , she said: “There are a lot of things that we have been doing around AI, both in terms of output and helping the newsrooms with production, as well as marketing and advertising. I definitely agree with VR and AR, I think that VR, particularly, is one of those things that we can see growing.

“Another really interesting space is synthetic media.

“If you take audio content, for example, automatically generated audio content has always sounded very robotic. So now being able to create something that really sounds interesting, to create videos from it, to put it in different formats without having to have a live person doing it, all this is very exciting.”

News UK launched a new national news-based radio station in the midst of lockdown at the end of June, Times Radio.

Scott said: “I think, like so many companies we had to move incredibly quickly. Things that we said would have taken years we did in weeks and days. I think the really important thing for companies is to take brave decisions. When things are changing so quickly the worst thing you can do is dither.

“Really looking at your decision-making processes, making sure that you flatten hierarchies, getting things out there as quickly as possible is important.

“Initially, when we said we were going to launch something like Times Radio during lockdown, you would think ‘well obviously that’s completely bonkers’, but we were still able to do it, and I think it’s just challenging yourself to go quickly and to be brave with your decisions.”

The Change 2020 forum was panel discussion on the future of media organised by News UK.

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