Excited about what 2019 will bring

December 27, 2018

This will serve as my final column of 2018 and as such, it serves as an opportunity share a few thoughts about what the new year might hold.

Bottom line?

I’m excited to find out.

Here’s one example of the reason for that excitement.

The Daily News recently sent Emily Case, our education reporter and assistant city editor, to a conference at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on emerging mobile technologies. Lots of ideas and things to think about.

One of those that she shared with the staff was to begin developing chatbots that could be used online as accompanying information to news stories.

What are they?

Technically speaking, they’re a computer program designed to simulate conversation with online users, especially over the internet.

Think of, for example, things you’ve done online when you’ve found yourself posing a question. The computer answers — after recognizing key words in your question — with information that has been previously written. More questions can follow and more computer-generated responses.

Chatbots allow a computer user to, in these kinds of situations, dig deeper into a topic if they so choose. Many may not do so, but those who do can find this an efficient way of learning more and getting questions answered.

As it turns out, it’s not all that complicated to design a chatbot to go with a story posted on the Daily News website.

That’s what Emily has been working on because of her attendance at the conference.

For a journalist like me in his late 50s, that’s kind of mind-blowing. For younger journalists, it’s not nearly as big a deal.

And that’s a big part of the reason for my excitement heading into 2019. There are many new tools and techniques available now that the Daily News can make use of and offer to readers.

It’s an evolving world — the journalism industry. We’re spending more and more time with online offerings designed to provide our content on as many different platforms as possible. And yet our print edition remains a core product, too.

Some of you may be reading this column while reading the pages of the Daily News at your kitchen table or in a recliner.

Others may be reading it on your computer or laptop or smartphone.

Look for an increased attention to the Daily News’ electronic edition — where you can simulate reading the pages of a newspaper on a computer — in 2019. Look for additional online content in the months to come.

Those are just two changes we’re working on.

But what won’t change is our commitment to being a trusted source of news for Northeast and North Central Nebraska, and one in which we strive for honor and excellence in serving residents of this corner of the state.

It should be an exciting 2019. I’m looking forward to having it arrive so we can get started.

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