Grimsby Telegraph employs 'virtual' journalist newsreader

The Grimsby Telegraph is the latest paper to experiment with a virtual newsreader.

Kate Carter is computer-generated and reads out stories written by Telegraph journalists.

Editor Michelle Lalor said: “We have been running video reports every day now – and sometimes up to three or four videos a day – for more than a year.

‘Breaking news 24-hours-a-day has been the norm for at least two years, and we have consistently been adding more interactive content to the site.

‘We have done so much to it, we were left scratching our heads a little about what more we could do – and then the idea of the newsbot was born.

‘They are a great example of how differently news can be reported – it’s all about novelty and fun.

‘Of course, Kate is only virtual, but we wanted to give her a personality to make her what she effectively is – a new member of the reporting team.

‘We’ve decided she’s a 35-year-old mum of two, who would like to be stuck in a lift with David Tennant or Johnny Depp but has rather dodgy tastes in music (her ring tone is Tight Fit’s The Lion Sleeps Tonight…”

Update: Since the famous Ananova, many news organisations have toyed with avatar-newsreaders using text-to-speech technology. Archant’s Welwyn & Hatfield Times used the same SitePal technology used by the Telegraph to introduce its virtual newsreader in February 2007. The Newcastle Chronicle’s website has used it to create a virtual Ronnie Gill feature.

The Eastern Daily Press last year experimented with its virtual newsreaders “Brian”, whose demonic-looking eyes led to a satire being produced by a reader before being replaced by the slightly less terrifying “Karena”.

Meanwhile, a technology lab at Northwestern University in the United States is working on a fully-automated video newscast based on video game technology.

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