Chris Cillizza Is Delivering News Through Alexa

By Corinne Grinapol Comment


The Washington Post announced yesterday that WaPo news is now accessible through Alexa, the Amazon answer to Siri that is available on devices like Fire TV and Amazon Echo. As part of the offerings, The Fix’s Chris Cillizza is writing flash briefings every afternoon:

As of right now you can get the latest political news — as written by yours truly — via your Echo. Every day — right around 3 pm eastern — I’ll put up an update on what you need to know from that day in politics. Simply ask Alexa for “what’s going on in the election” or for your “flash briefing” and she’ll read you what I wrote.

It’s a pairing that makes complete sense, given that Jeff Bezos owns the Post and is the founder and CEO of Amazon. But it’s also representative of the larger push for technology and innovation that Bezos has encouraged at the Post, an idea that Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky revisits in his profile of Bezos.

Asking Post executive editor Martin Baron—who is “exactly as Liev Schreiber portrayed him in Spotlight: a dour and serious—yet witty—newsman”—about the changes, Baron tells Lashinsky that “Bezos’s chief editorial contribution has been to ‘push us into the recognition that living in the world of the Internet is different from living in a print world.'”

That includes competing in arenas that previously miffed legacy publications:

Annoyed that “aggregator” sites were getting more online traffic by summarizing Post articles than the Post received for the original articles, for example, the Post has become an adept aggregator itself, “layering on top,” in Baron’s words, its own reporting. Bezos approved funding for a Huffington Post–like site, PostEverything, for unpaid experts to publish their opinions. (Writers may be free, but editors still cost money.) Then there’s the Post’s new “talent network,” a highly automated web creation that connects the publication to 800 freelance journalists in the U.S. who can be assigned articles in seconds. Baron compares the network to tech-world innovations like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, TaskRabbit, and Uber. “We’re not in a position where we can reconstruct an old model of bureaus all over the country,” he says, “and it’s not clear that that’s the most efficient and effective way to go about our work.”

The experiments in innovation Bezos encourages come with the equally important, tacit permission to fail, according to Lashinsky.

There are plenty of additional tidbits in there, like the fact that Bezos says he “just accepted the number [former owner Donald Graham] proposed” when purchasing the Post, and there’s the whole “disemvoweling” business that was making the social media rounds today. You can read the whole thing here.