Top Kenyan media station using AI in wake of digital revolution shake-up

8 months ago

Machine learning can be utilized to create new forms of interaction between people, journalists, and the newsroom. (Pic - Muthoni Njuki)

Say hello to the digital revolution that has slowly crept into all industries and disrupted them, from the medical, marketing, food, manufacturing, finance, agriculture, retail, media, name it! Yes, the media too has not been left out in the upheaval.

The sector that was once the only go-to place for news has faced a shake-up by the social media whirlwind.

The before
20 years ago, every day at 7 o'clock, a mental bell would ring across the country, a call to action. Every Kenyan who cared to know the current affairs would be glued to their TVs and cling to their FM/AM receivers to receive the much needed political and social news.

To get recipes, one had to wait for the weekly cooking show or the weekly 'lifestyle' newspaper pull-out. Lyrics to the latest anthems were also dished-out weekly and few would wait in disappointment for their favorite song Lyrics to be published.

Media stations made massive revenue from classifieds, press releases, and advertisements

The after
With the digital shift, people are now consuming news and entertainment on demand. Your favorite song is only a Youtube Click away. You can watch that viral video, over and over without limitations. Twitter is streaming live updates from across the world. Events are being streamed live across borders by individuals and news stations alike.

For traditional media to survive this disruption, a lot of idea restrategizing and restructuring has to be done. 

Artificial Intelligence to the rescue
Contrary to old traditional media models whereby the programming was decided in boardrooms, the media now has to cater to audiences' needs according to demand.
The media has now invested heavily in digital departments key to move content across the web
Kenyan lead media conglomerate, Nation Media group has adapted Artificial intelligence to be able to learn its audiences and supply content according to their needs. Speaking at the CIO AI/IOT summit the group's Operations Director, Gideon Aswani says that they have employed big data analytics to make it easy to pick up habits that are relevant in terms of what they are trying to offer.
"We are trying to understand your needs, what type of content probably will excite you and we can give you that content by understanding a bit about your behaviors. We don't really want to snoop on you. But we are trying to make sense of that data. Through an artificial intelligence system and machine learning algorithm, we want to see your habits and certainly match the products that we are giving you. I am not interested in what you do from Monday to Friday but if I build up data for a period of six months I will be able to know the emerging trends." Aswani says
How AI is revolutionalizing news reporting
For news, machine learning offers the possibility for a media station to understand their audience in real-life content. One can now receive  breaking news and features fashioned for them on their lock screen through these tools, TechCrunch reports

An intelligent notification system sending personalized news notifications can now be used to optimize content and content distribution. The system could personalize the way the content is presented, whether serving voice, video, photos, augmented reality material or visualizations, based on users’ preferences and context.

Machine learning can be utilized to create new forms of interaction between people, journalists, and the newsroom. Through the comment section, the system can learn how certain news items are received. This directs how content is served to the audiences.

By opening up the algorithms and data usage through data visualizations and in-depth articles, the news media could create a new, truly human-centered form of personalization that lets the user know how personalization is done and how it’s used to affect the news experience.
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