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McClatchy unveils text-to-speech feature to listen to news content

McClatchy unveils text-to-speech feature to listen to news content
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McClatchy is launching a text-to-speech audio feature allowing readers to listen to content produced by its 30 newsrooms in the U.S., making it the first local news media company with a national presence to offer the technology.

The company said in a statement on Tuesday that the development it is part of its "strategy in the audio space, which includes initiatives in smart speakers, audio search and podcasts."

McClatchy said it has seen positive results from trials at The Sacramento Bee in California and The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., with each publication showing a 168 percent increase in time spent on their news site, an 89 percent rise in story page views and a 95 percent uptick in visits per user.

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“At a time when consumption of digital audio is stronger than ever, we’re excited to roll out this new audio feature to our customers to enhance their news experience and give them the ability to listen to local journalism where and when they want it,” said Jessica Gilbert, senior director of product and experience, in McClatchy's announcement. “In addition, the integration of this technology across all of our sites will drive advertising revenue.”

The launch comes as many news organizations across the country are instituting substantial cost-cutting measures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite increased online traffic and higher TV news ratings, the COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on most of the media industry due to falling advertising revenue as retail stores and other businesses are shuttered under stay-at-homes orders across the country.