This week we find out what types of online subscription models are actually working, and we explore the possibilities and limitations for computer-generated stories.

PART 1: An update on paywalls

As news organizations experiment with different approaches to paywalls and metered access to online content, it's tough to know the best way to go. Ken Doctor, author of "Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get," and Missouri School of Journalism Professor Mike Jenner explain what appears to be working and how that's likely to evolve.

Reporting by Chelsea Stuart.

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In this extended Futures Lab Q&A, Doctor explains how online paywalls are setting the stage for successful mobile strategies by shifting the overall revenue model from advertising to payments from readers.

Doctor also explains the the economics of other developments affecting the news landscape in his regular "Newsonomics" articles for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

PART 2: Robot writers and automated journalism

Multiple companies have developed software that can turn data into text stories about sports, business or other topics. The founder of one such company, Journatic, identifies some of the possibilities. We also hear about challenges the Washington Post encountered when they were looking to automate some high school sports coverage.

Reporting by Laura Davison.

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Examples of automated journalism:

The text generated by algorithms varies in terms of length and complexity. Here are some examples of how different organizations are using the technology.



Short stories:

Automated publishing companies:

Following the lead of Journatic and Narrative Science, a new automation service Aggrego launched this summer. It's owned by Wrapports, parent company of the Chicago Sun-Times. Aggrego will supply content to the Sun-Times’ suburban editions, according to this report from Crain’s Chicago Business. Here’s an example from the Sun-Times’ local edition in Naperville, Ill.

Aggrego recently came under fire from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, which says Aggrego is using non-union labor for work that was collectively bargained to guild members, according to a report from the Chicago Business Journal.

Reuben Stern  
Director of NYC Partnerships


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