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October 14, 2020

News UK CTO Christina Scott: AI is helping the newsrooms with production

"The worst thing you can do is dither," says Scott

By Claudia Glover

News UK CTO Christina Scott says that the company is incorporating emerging technologies such as AI, VR and synthetic media deeply into the fabric of its newsrooms.

Speaking at the Change 2020 forum, she said: “There are a lot of things that we have been doing around AI, both in terms of output and helping the newsrooms with production, as well as marketing and advertising. I definitely agree with VR and AR, I think that VR, particularly, is one of those things that we can see growing.

“Another really interesting space is synthetic media.

“If you take audio content, for example, automatically generated audio content has always sounded very robotic. So now being able to create something that really sounds interesting, to create videos from it, to put it in different formats without having to have a live person doing it, all this is very exciting.”

Future of work: “We’re re-imagining the space”

As with most workspaces globally, the media heavyweight’s offices are not being used at scale, and will be used differently as this lockdown phase ends. Scott continued: “People can work remotely and actually it’s good to work remotely, but that social connection is so important. We have to think; how do you take offices and make the most of that space? What is the purpose of going to an office?

“Probably more to collaborate and work with people, rather than to come in and sit at a desk all day and then walk out again. It’s just re-imagining the space, and thinking about how you get the best out of people.”

In broader terms, weathering the challenges posed by the pandemic has been unpredictable across all industries. News UK survived by being quick to act, above all else, Scott explained: “I think, like so many companies we had to move incredibly quickly. Things that we said would have taken years we did in weeks and days. I think the really important thing for companies is to take brave decisions. When things are changing so quickly the worst thing you can do is dither.

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“Really looking at your decision-making processes, making sure that you flatten hierarchies, getting things out there as quickly as possible is important.

“Initially, when we said we were going to launch something like Times Radio during lockdown, you would think ‘well obviously that’s completely bonkers’, but we were still able to do it, and I think it’s just challenging yourself to go quickly and to be brave with your decisions.”

Previously CIO at the Financial Times, Scott joined News UK as CTO in February 2016, making her responsible for overseeing Technology and Product teams at News UK. In May 2018, Scott was also appointed as the global head of emerging technology for News Corp.

News Corp UK & Ireland Limited is a British newspaper publisher, and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American mass media corporation News Corp. It is the current publisher of The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun newspapers.

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