Make the McKenzie Connection!

Ridin' the Rapids

Does your newspaper talk to you? McKenzie River Reflections does now, thanks to a project I’ve been working on for the past month.

I’m not talking about a text replacement. Instead, the plan was about complementing written words and giving readers something I’ve been hearing they wanted: content on the go, when looking at a screen is not an option.

Some said they’d like the convenience of being informed when “too busy to read but want to know what’s going on.” Other people have been accessing mckenzie river reflections on cell phones, which can make text reading tough on a tiny screen.

Luckily the AI-powered code added to the site is delivering some natural-sounding narration that adds a personal feel. During my search for ways to do this, I sampled text-reading offerings that other newspapers are using (and don’t sound like humans at all).

I feel this system will prove to be a great tool for conveying a variety of content - from popular weekly columns on history or gardening - to area news, and everything in between.

Of course, there will be some teething problems. Initially, the way “Willamette” was pronounced came out as “Will-A-Met-A.” And, I haven’t quite gotten “Vida” to sound right yet - but it’s currently better than the “Veedee” that first came through a speaker as the code converted it to speech.

Like going from printed and mailed subscriptions to digital delivery, I hope people will agree that this is an improvement and adds value to their weekly newspaper.

And, for advertisers, I’m also working on ways to bring more life to your ads to life as well.

Please give it a try, and let me know what you think.


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