Guardian’s Robot-Generated Print Edition to Hit the Stands Soon

The Guardian has fortified its digital-only presence in the U.S. and now plans to experiment with a robot-generated print edition for the U.S market starting this Wednesday. This new robot-generated newspaper will be called ‘#Open001’. This will be distributed free every month across U.S. media and ad agency offices to include Mindshare, Horizon Media and Digitas. The number of copies that will be circulated post its launch is pegged at 5,000 every month.

To produce this technology-driven print edition, the Guardian uses a homegrown algorithm (which is a robot) that combs through the paper’s content to find the best long reads and the decision is taken based on the social media metrics such as Facebook shares, tweets and comments. The good long reads are then later fed onto essay-style templates and then beamed to a printer.

The first stories selected for the U.S. media audience include “Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: Who are you calling bossy,” ”Kurt Cobain: An icon of alienation,” and “Robots and sex: Creepy or cool?” Digidayreported.

‘#Open001’ started as an experiment in the U.K. for online readers by the Guardian, which was later turned into a print edition, The Good Long Read in December. The Good Long Read is distributed free at the Guardian Coffee Shop in London, that’s called #Guardian Coffee.

While this robot-generated print newspaper is an overt pitch to media buyers; in its own unique sense this experimentation by the newspaper is all thanks to the ownership of the Scott Trust. The Trust frees the newspaper from most part of the commercial pressures, which allows room for experimentation and thus helps make a room for difference with innovation at the forefront at Guardian.

Talking about this innovative technological medium to introduce Guardian’s content to the U.S. media community, Gennady Kolker, spokesman for the Guardian in the U.S. said, “We’re on mobile, on tablets and online in the U.S. This is a way to get people to lean back and enjoy the long-form content. Some of our stories are more conducive to that print feel. It’s a way to show that audience, here’s what Guardian content is.”

The Guardian also promotes the open journalism approach, inviting the public to review public record documents. Also one of it native ad product was built stressing on the fundamentals of open journalism, which welcomes readers to comment on the ad content and suggest scope for improvisation of the same.

Undoubtedly, this robot-print edition ‘#Open001’ acts as a torch bearer to the other publishers who are eagerly looking forward to meet informative needs of consumers by optimizing technology to its fullest. It also ensures efficiency to producing news by letting robots do, what human editors did.

This is an ode to the slow news movement, especially hindered and affected greatly by the evolution of Internet as a medium, with print slowly losing ground. Will this robot produced print edition help revival of the newspaper industry in print?

This experiment is slowly finding ways to bring life to the old content, which other publishers have done using compilation and effective segregation with appropriate topics, to make the features more relevant to the end user.

By: Savita V Jayaram

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