OMAK — The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle has launched the first voice-activated news content from the region available from the Amazon Echo’s “Alexa.”
Currently in an abbreviated format, the newspaper is offering a couple stories each day on the voice-activated service.
The system brings news, sports, weather, music and other services to “Alexa” owners with wireless Internet.
Until now, only weather was available from the area.
“It’s exciting, cutting edge,” Chronicle Managing Editor Brock Hires said, who has been developing the local service. “It’s just another way to get your news, sports and weather information.”
Hires said the daily news feed will include news, weather and sports.
“We’ve been publishing a newspaper for 109 years, weekly Facebook video newscasts for two years, and maintaining a website for more than 20 years,” Hires said. “It just seems like the ‘Alexa’ service is a step in the right direction in the ever-chaining media world.”
Publisher Teresa Myers agrees.
"We are fortunate to have today’s technology advancements right at our fingertips," Myers said. "We look forward to serving our customers on the many platforms they use for their local news."
Most people younger than about 25 years old rely heavily on voice-activated systems or smartphone and tablet applications, or “apps,” Hires said.
Readers who own an Amazon Echo can begin getting The Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle in their “flash briefing” by adding the newspaper to their list of news sources in the setup procedures.
After The Chronicle is added, local voice-activated content can be accessed by simply stating “Alexa, what’s the news” while the device — an Echo, an Echo Dot, Echo Spot, or an Echo Show — is turned on and connected to wireless Internet.
The voice-activated news feed is the first of its kind in the Okanogan and Ferry counties. Staff is also working on adding similar voice-activated news for Google Home, with other systems to come.
“We’re working on an app for Google Home,” Hires said. “We’ve got a couple of other ideas up our sleeve that we’ll unveil hopefully within the next year.”
Being able to offer a voice-activated product opens the door for sponsored content as well as promotions for local communities, events and businesses.
Hires said he hopes “Alexa” users will tune in for a while and let the newspaper know what coverage they would like to receive from voice-activated technology.
The leap from print to voice-activated, on-demand news may seem far-fetched to some.
But, according to Hires, it makes sense given the change in news consumption patterns.