Audio News: Pretty Cool, but Slightly Robotic

When things get busy in my life, one of the first casualties are my newspapers and magazines. As they come in, they get stacked in a corner of my room waiting to be read. Sometimes this stack can be a couple of feet thick before I finally get the time to catch up.

Now, there is a quicker way to stay on top of my news. Newspapers like The International Herald Tribune now offer free audio news which can be downloaded and listened to on your iPod while driving to work or traveling. It’s a great idea, but still has a few kinks.

The problem is that The International Herald Tribune does not employ an army of readers to record every article in the paper. Instead, according to their website, “Articles are read by the latest text-to-speech technologies using professional readers whose recordings are converted into language dictionaries.” Unfortunately by using such a process, the words sound automated and emotionless and slightly like Stephen Hawking.

It’s a little painful, but I’m still going to give it a shot. Once this technology is perfected–the site is still in beta–I can see myself subscribing to more of their feeds. In the meantime, I think those stacks of literature on my bedroom floor will continue to grow.