Singapore Press Holdings Ltd (SGX: T39), or SPH, is a leading media organisation. Its core business is the publishing of newspapers, magazines and books in both print and digital editions. The group also owns other digital products and online classifieds. More recently, SPH also invested in nursing homes and student accommodation assets to diversify its business.
SPH held its inaugural SPH Tech Day last week, and CEO Ng Yat Chung was present to showcase how SPH has tapped on various technological innovations to transform its newsroom and improve its media division. I had written on SPH’s media division facing continuous decline over the past few years, so this Tech Day may throw up some promising ideas for turning the division around.
Here are four ways SPH is harnessing the power of technology to improve its business.
1. Sentiment analysis
Sentiment analysis is the process of determining the emotional tone behind words. It can be used to predict if a particular news story will be well-read, based on how people may react to the emotional cues within the story. Articles or stories that evoke negative emotions may be less popular than stories which inspire or encourage. SPH can make use of this to curate its media offerings in order to ensure that readership remains high and that readers stay engaged.
2. Content recommendation engine
SPH has also built a content recommendation engine. This allows for the personalisation of content for different users depending on his preferences. These preferences are tracked through the clicks made by each user, and these clicks will feed into the engine in order to decide on the news stories to be displayed for this particular user. Hence, different users can end up with different types of news articles displayed for them, all based on their own unique preferences. This can keep readers engaged for longer periods of time as they sift through articles that are more relevant to their area of interest.
3. Automated transcription service
This service helps to transcribe voice recordings into text and saves journalists a lot of time as they won’t have to record interviews and then transcribe them manually onto a document. Artificial intelligence (AI) is being harnessed to recognise voices and words and to be able to transcribe them as accurately as possible.
4. Fake news guard
A software called Fake News Guard is still at the proof of concept stage but is promising as it relies on a combination of data and machine learning (a subset of AI) to help combat fake news. Fake news is a major scourge as it misleads readers, provides incorrect and inaccurate information and may even stir up negative emotions. By coming up with a software that can detect potential fake news, SPH can then prevent such news from being circulated and disseminated to the public, and thus reduce the instances of fake news proliferating on media sites.
Promising but monitoring needed
Though the above initiatives sound promising, time is needed to assess if they can reverse the readership decline. While the usage of technology in media is certainly a good step forward for SPH, perhaps other initiatives need to be tapped on to ensure that its media division stays relevant.
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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Royston Yang does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.