(Fixes spelling error in first paragraph)
By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO, March 20 A new smartphone app
developed by the Tribune Co will read aloud a
personalized "playlist" of news articles along with weather and
traffic updates, as the media organization looks for new ways to
The free Newsbeat app released on Thursday is the first
product developed by the year-old Tribune Digital Ventures group
headed by former Yahoo Inc executive Shashi Seth.
The app uses text-to-speech technology and recordings of
humans reading news articles to produce a daily catalog of
roughly 7,000 articles about everything from world news to
sports. Similar to the way digital music streaming services such
as Pandora Media Inc operate, the Newsbeat app determines
the stories most relevant for different users based on their
preferences and habits.
Seth said the app, which is available for iPhones and
Android smarpthones, is good for commuters. The streaming news
playlist is customized for the length of each user's commute,
based on the addresses they enter into the app. "There is a very
large amount of people's undivided attention that you can get,"
The news articles include stories produced by Tribune's
newspapers, which include the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago
Tribune, as well content from websites and publishers that
Tribune has partnered with. The customized playlists of news
stories include audio ads about every 10 minutes.
Tribune Co is preparing to separate its slow growth
newspaper assets from lucrative broadcast TV properties later
this year. Newspapers across the United States face challenges
including shrinking advertising revenue and readers who prefer
to get their news on mobile devices.
(Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)