Audioburst turns the best part of podcasts into personalized news briefs

Tel Aviv-based Audioburst has been developing a search engine for audio news, which allows users to locate audio content within podcasts and other talk radio programs. Today, the company is capitalizing on its technology to launch personalized playlists that deliver custom news briefs that get better over time the more you use the product.

The feature has been built using deep AI learning, the company says. The content itself is drawn from top podcasts and the radio stations in Audioburst’s index, and will alert you to new information based on your chosen keywords and topics. To use the feature, you first sign up on the Audioburst website, then select from a set of interests or add your own. When you’re finished with the selection process, you just hit the “I’m done” button to be taken to your personalized playlist of audio clips. The end result is being able to listen
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How to stream U.S. elections coverage if you don’t have TV

You don’t need a TV to tune in to live coverage of the U.S. elections results today – and you don’t have to have Hulu or another live TV streaming service, either. Today, YouTube announced a list of news organizations that will be broadcasting live elections coverage on its site today – helpful for those who don’t have another way to watch at home, or need to tune in while on the go. There’s also live coverage available on other sites, including Facebook, Twitch, Twitter and elsewhere.

As more people cut the cord with traditional pay TV, YouTube’s reach has been growing when it comes to distributing the news. That’s apparent in the list of available news media organizations that have decided to broadcast live to YouTube tonight. For comparison’s sake, YouTube in 2016 reported viewers had spent over 20 million hours watching and rewatching the presidential debates on
more 2018 US Midterm Election coverage
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Apple News will launch a real-time election results hub on November 6

Apple is preparing to launch a new way for its customers to track election results. The company, on 8 PM ET on November 6, will swap out the existing Midterm Elections section in the Apple News app, and replace it with a new Election Night section instead. This section will also replace Apple News’ Digest tab at the bottom-center of the app, in order to lead users directly to the special section where they’ll be able to track the live results, updates on key races, latest developments and more.

The company is partnering with the Associated Press for its real-time election results, as do many news organizations thanks to AP’s history and experience with verifying results. Here, Apple will use that AP data to inform a number of dynamic infographics as well as offer a complete list of federal election results in every state, including House and Senate seats. These
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The tactics behind The Athletic’s breakout success in sports subscriptions

Local newspapers may be shuttering and people may be consuming most news on social media, but don’t tell Alex Mather that a subscription news publication can’t grow like a unicorn startup. His 2-year-old sports publisher The Athletic has gained over 100,000 paid subscribers (60% under age 34) and has a 90% retention rate.

Having already raised $30 million in its short life, the company announced a new $40 million Series C yesterday, led by Founders Fund and Bedrock Capital. It reportedly values The Athletic around $200 million. I interviewed Alex Mather (The Athletic’s CEO) and Eric Stomberg (Partner at Bedrock Capital) to understand what’s behind the breakout success and why they think this publishing startup can scale to become a multi-billion dollar company. EP: Bedrock makes concentrated, contrarian bets. Explain how The Athletic fits that. ES: I first met Alex and Adam in 2016 during Y Combinator. The popular
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Cheddar buys a user-generated content biz, Rate My Professors, from Viacom

Streaming news company Cheddar announced this morning it’s acquiring Rate My Professors, the Viacom-owned site where students go online to rate and review their professors and schools across the U.S. The site, founded in 1999, has become something of a staple on the web, and by its nature it attracts the young demographic that Cheddar itself is also after.

According to Cheddar, Rate My Professors is being used by more than 6 million college students per month, who write an average of 125,000 new professor and class ratings monthly. Seasonally, these figures peak at 7 million and 300,000, respectively. The site traffic has been steadily growing year-over-year, and it now boasts 20 million total ratings across 1.8 million professors. Its iOS app has thousands of reviews, and a 4.8 star rating, as well. Cheddar already has big plans for its new purchase, promising a site redesign
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NBC to launch a new streaming network, NBC News Signal

NBC is looking to reach a younger audience with today’s announcement of a new streaming news network, NBC News Signal. Instead of airing on traditional pay TV platforms, Signal will be available through NBC’s news mobile and over-the-top apps, as well as on other services including PlutoTV, YouTube, and Twitter. The focus will be on the “political and social issues in America,” the company says.

The service will include an evening show hosted by Simone Boyce at 7 PM ET on weekdays. At launch, this program is available on Thursdays at 7 PM ET only. Other programming consists of a morning and afternoon show and hourly news updates called “Brieflies,” which launches later this quarter and in early 2019. There will also be a Steve Kornacki-hosted digital show “218: Race for the House” which will air daily at 12pm ET and on Election Day, November 6th; as well as a Katy Tur-hosted pre-show
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A new CSS-based web attack will crash and restart your iPhone

A security researcher has found a new way to crash and restart any iPhone — with just a few lines of code. Sabri Haddouche tweeted a proof-of-concept webpage with just 15 lines of code which, if visited, will crash and restart an iPhone or iPad. Those on macOS may also see Safari freeze when opening the link. The code exploits a weakness in iOS’ web rendering engine WebKit, which Apple mandates all apps and browsers use, Haddouche told TechCrunch. He explained that nesting a ton of elements — such as <div> tags — inside a backdrop filter property in CSS, you can use up all of the device’s resources and cause a kernel panic, which shuts down and restarts the operating system to prevent damage. “Anything that renders HTML on iOS is affected,” he said. That means anyone sending you a link on Facebook or Twitter, or if any webpage you
💣
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Civil, the blockchain journalism startup, has partnered with one of the oldest names in media

Civil, the two-year-old crypto startup that wants to save the journalism industry by leveraging the blockchain and cryptoeconomics, has partnered with the 172-year-old Associated Press to help the wire service stop bad actors from stealing its content. Civil, using its blockchain-enabled licensing mechanism, which is still in development, will help the AP track where its content is going and whether it’s licensed correctly. In exchange, the AP has granted the newsrooms in Civil’s network licenses to its content. Civil, which has raised $5 million from the blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, plans to make the licensing tool available to all the newsrooms in its ecosystem once it’s up and running. Matthew Iles, the founder and CEO of Civil, told TechCrunch he wants the company to become the new economy for journalism, uprooting the long-standing ad-based revenue model and providing journalists ownership of their content. Beyond that, he wants to reinstate trust
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Google Assistant’s latest feature delivers just the ‘good news’

You’re not the only one feeling run down by the news of the day. The folks at Google apparently believe we could all use a dose of good news, at times, too. The company today announced it’s testing a new Google Assistant feature called “Tell me something good” that will allow users to hear a summary of more uplifting news stories. The stories will focus on people who are “solving problems for our communities and our world,” says Google. To activate the feature, Assistant users in the U.S. can say, “Hey Google, tell me something good” to kick off the daily briefing of happy stories. Google offers some examples of what the “good news” may include, like a story about how Georgia State University stopped students from slipping through the cracks; or how backyard beekeepers in East Detroit are bringing back the dwindling bee population; or how Iceland curbed teen
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The NYT adds a personalized ‘news feed’ to its iOS app

The New York Times announced on Friday how it’s adding its own take on Facebook-style News Feed to its mobile app. Yes, literally a news feed. The publication says it will now allow its iOS app users to customize their reading experience through a new feature called “Your Feed,” which consists only of those channels readers choose to follow. Some of those channels will pull stories from existing New York Times sections and columns, like Modern Love, while others, like Gender & Society, At War, Pop Culture, and more will pull news from across the paper’s sections. And others will include commentary from reporters and editors, and will feature worthy reads from outside The Times. This additional context will only be found in this personalized Your Feed section, and is something the publication says is an experiment in terms of bringing another layer of insight to the news and stories.
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CBS launches local news streaming services

CBS is today debuting a new portfolio of streaming services designed to deliver local news to cord cutters and other digital media consumers. The services, branded CBSN Local, will live under the CBSN brand – the 24/7 news channel first launched in November 2014 that made its way to the CBS All Access streaming service last August. And like CBSN, CBSN Local’s coverage will also become a part of CBS All Access in the future, the company says. CBSN Local is essentially a way to bring local news from CBS stations to the streaming TV audience. The content offered will include anchored news broadcasts airing in the morning, daytime and evening, plus breaking live news events from CBS-owned TV stations in major U.S. markets. Each of the CBSN Local services will also offer additional daily newscasts that are produced exclusively for CBSN Local, as well as content that’s available
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Google Assistant’s news feeds are getting smarter

News is far and away the feature I use the most with Google Assistant. Every morning, I ask the Assistant “what’s in the news,” and it dutifully cycles through some pre-recorded news briefs from NPR, CNN and the like. It does the job, but it’s not much for specificity.

Google, however, is introducing tools to help developers target specific content based on queries. Per the example given in a new blog post, publishers can highlight a snippet of a story that will be read aloud when a user makes a request along the lines of “Hey Google, what’s the latest news on NASA?”Assistant will then read that portion aloud. The link to the full article is sent to the user’s mobile device and once done, Assistant will ask if they want another.

It’s interesting to watch companies like Google and Amazon play around with these news reads. It seems

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Tim Cook speaks out at Fortune’s CEO Initiative on hot-button issues like immigration

Tim Cook at an Apple event in 2016.

At Fortune’s CEO Initiative event today, Tim Cook shared his opinion on a number of contentious issues, including immigration, political news and smartphone addiction. Here are some highlights from his conversation with Fortune executive editor Adam Lashinsky. On companies taking a stance on public policy and other politically charged issues, including the Trump administration’s separations of migrant families at United States-Mexico border, which Cook recently condemned as “inhumane”:Apple is about changing the world. It became clear to me some number of years ago that you don’t do that by staying quiet on things that matter. For us, that’s the driving issue,” he said. Although there’s “no formula” dictating what Apple addresses publicly, Cook said the company considers “do we have a standing, do we have a right to talk about this issue?” For Apple, he said this
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Get your trusted midterm elections news from us, says Apple

Apple News has a new old mission: Curating political news and analysis by paying a team of experienced human editors to quality-assess journalism, rather than letting unchecked algorithms run wild and exaggerate anything — no matter how awful, obnoxious or untrue. ‘Fakebook’ eat your heart out. Apple says human curation is not a new direction for Apple News — describing it as a “guiding principle” across the product since it launched three years ago. Although it certainly wasn’t shouting so loudly about it back then when algorithmic feeds were still riding high. But the company says Apple News has always had a team of editors — which it says are focused on “discovering and spotlighting well-sourced fact-based stories to provide readers with relevant, reliable news and information from a wide range of publishers”. Those “experienced” editors are also now being put to work assessing political reportage and commentary around the
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TheSkimm brings its news service to Android

TheSkimm, the female-led media company best known for its newsletter that summarizes, in plain language, the top news and highlights from the day before, is today launching a mobile app for Android devices. Previously available on the iPhone, theSkimm’s new app combines a mobile version of its newsletter, along with a calendar of important events, immediate updates on events happening now, weekly audio episodes focused on complex topics, and a new feature called “Text theSkimm.” As you may have guessed by the name, Text theSkimm allows mobile app subscribers to text the company directly to receive information about important decisions they’re making, like those about investing, asking for a raise, or their healthcare options. On this front, theSkimm competes with other self improvement-via-text services, including Shine, another female-founded startup which recently raised $5 million for its own suite of apps and services. TheSkimm, meanwhile, is backed by
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Facebook kills its ‘Trending’ section

Facebook really doesn’t want to be a media company. The social network announced this morning it’s removing its often controversial “Trending” section from its site next week, in order to make way for “future news experiences,” it says. These experiences include things like a dedicated section for news videos on its video hub Facebook Watch, a breaking news label publishers can use on their posts, and a dedicated section called “Today In” which connects people to news and information from local publishers in their city along with updates from local officials and organizations. Over 80 news publishers are currently testing the “breaking news” label, which allows them to opt to flag their Instant Articles, mobile and web links, and Facebook Live video as breaking news, the company tells us. Facebook says that the early results from this testing have led to a 4 percent lift in click-through rates, a
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Real Vision, a media platform for finance and business, raises $10 million

Real Vision is entering the crowded business and financial new space with a bang. The company, which recently raised a $10 million Series B after a $5 million A round, is working on a number of new initiatives including distribution on Apple TV, a content distribution partnership with Thomson Reuters and an upcoming documentary on PBS. The documentary, “A World on the Brink,” will focus on threats to the global economy. The team is aiming at viewers ages 36-45 instead of the older Boomers who prefer cable financial news far. “Unlike most video-based media businesses where short-form video is deemed to have the highest user engagement, Real Vision have found that almost 70% of their customers who start a half, or an hour-long, video will watch all of it. This engagement in long-form content is breaking boundaries within the industry,” said co-founder and CEO Raoul Pal. “Sensationalism and clickbait is
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Tech4Reporters pitches a new hub for journalists to connect with tech experts

 Technology reporting has become a function of every single major news beat these days. From politics to crime, business and finance to entertainment, it’s increasingly important that reporters get a good grounding in the technology that’s transforming their beats to avoid basic errors. For John Biggs, an editor-at-large here at TechCrunch, the problem became so acute in the… Read More

To fight propaganda, YouTube will now label state-funded news broadcasts in the U.S.

 YouTube today said it’s launching a change to its service that will offer viewers more transparency around where news broadcasters get their funding. According to a company announcement, YouTube will now add notices below videos that are uploaded by broadcasters who receive some level of government or public funding. “Our goal is to equip users with additional information to help… Read More