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Technological breakthroughs that revolutionized journalism

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The importance of technology to journalism is such that it was even named after it. The term “newspaper” was adopted from the periodical printing plates, the invention that made its creation possible.

Learn about the most important technological advances that have made it possible for journalism to evolve, from its birth from the periodical plates in the 15th century to the arrival of artificial intelligence in newsrooms in 2022.

What is the origin of journalism?

Gutenberg was a bankrupt goldsmith who became an “entrepreneur” out of necessity. In the 1440s, he engineered the development of printing with movable type. As he perfected the technique and its use became more widespread, printing costs were reduced until presses became more affordable.

It was precisely this possibility of printing for more people at shorter intervals that led to the creation of “newspapers”, which were no more than periodically printed gazettes.

The next natural step was the daily press, whose first exponent was the English Daily Courant in 1702.

The most important technological landmarks for journalism

Since the creation of the daily press, every technological innovation adopted by newsrooms has been a minor (or major) revolution.

- Telegraph and teletypes: The telegraph was the driving force of journalism in the 19th century, with which information could be received from anywhere in the world in what, at the time, could be considered “real-time.” However, as early as 1914, the Associated Press installed automatic teletype-receiving machines in its New York service. From 1920 onwards, their use became commonplace in European newspapers. Teletypewriters were a crucial development compared to the telegraph: in addition to being transmitted over the telephone line, they allowed the transfer of typewritten messages for publication.

The expression “bell news“ comes from the sound that teletypewriters made when urgent news arrived.

- Photography: Today we cannot imagine a newspaper without photographs to illustrate the news or without large front pages, but it was not until the end of the 19th century (4 March 1880) that the New York Daily Graphic first published a printed photograph. Since then, images have become a mainstay of journalism.

- Telephone: Since its invention in 1876, its many uses have been proven and newspapers around the world soon installed telephone terminals in their newsrooms. We all have in our minds images from classic films such as The Front Page in which journalists rush out and try to get a booth from which to dictate a story to the newsroom. This figure has remained until relatively recently in the newsrooms of newspapers all over the world.

- From the first mobile phones to the smartphone: If the landline phone was a revolution, the arrival of mobile phones was no less so. From the first satellite phones that began to be sold in 1984 to today's smartphones, the ability first to talk from anywhere and then to send texts, images and even broadcast live video has meant a before and after in the agility of transmitting news.

- Computers, internet and digital editions: The first newspaper in the world to have a computer in its newsroom was the American Daily Oklahoma in 1963. However, it took several decades for newspapers to move towards the internet.

Today, we are unable to work without access to the internet, not only to publish our information but also as a source of reference, to obtain resources or as a means of communication.

It is not clear who has the honour of being the pioneer in the network of networks. For some experts, the first was the San Jose Mercury News, while others give that title to the California-based Palo Alto Weekly. In any case, there is consensus that the first digital newspapers were born between 1993 and 1995 in the United States.

First newsrooms 3.0: The Artificial Intelligence Revolution

Since the consolidation of digital editions, newspapers have begun a process of unstoppable transformation. It has been 15 years since the Daily Telegraph decided to modify the physical structure of its newsroom to adapt to what was called “web first”.

During this time, most newspapers have adopted this structure that places the digital team at the centre of the newsroom, one of the fundamental changes for the digital transformation of any newspaper.

The arrival of news websites means that decisions about what to publish, how to publish and when to publish, which used to take hours to make, have to be made in a few minutes. Having newspaper staff isolated from each other and phoning each other all day long, started to become a problem. Communication and information need to flow much faster than before.

However, true Newsroom 3.0 goes beyond a physical redistribution of teams and adapting the editorial style according to search engine optimisation standards. What differentiates Newsroom 3.0 is the adoption of Artificial Intelligence to automate manual tasks and offer the best user experience to each reader.

At Protecmedia we offer solutions that facilitate the optimisation of editorial processes. Our R&D team is constantly working to improve the applications of artificial intelligence in the media outlets and thus ensure that each professional can focus their efforts on innovation, research and creativity.

Some revolutionary examples with great results are AB Testing techniques, personalised user experiences, print layout automation, and real-time facial and logo recognition in videos or speech-to-text.

If you want to know more about how artificial intelligence is transforming newsrooms around the world and the experiences of digital audiences, do not hesitate to contact our team.

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