By Ismael Nafría
In mid-December Clarín introduced an AI-based news reading assistant called Ualter, on all news items published on its website. It offers six alternative formats to the original text, such as allowing users to select: a summary of the article, a chronological version, highlights and more.
The AI tool UalterAI, created by Gallo Media, condenses and analyses text, data and information to offer alternatives to linear reading.
The six formats work as follows:
Summary: UalterAI automatically generates a summary that is approximately 20% of the length of the original text.
Chronological order: The text is ordered in a temporal sequence. The facts are summarised in 10 sentences ordered according to the chronology of events or narrative logic.
Text highlights: A list of textual sentences in quotation marks and relevant paragraphs by the author is presented.
Data: All numbers, figures and material data that may appear in a text are extracted and presented as an easy-to-read two-column table.
Names: An onomastic index of all the names of persons and institutions cited in the text, arranged alphabetically.
FAQ: The information in the text is reorganised and edited as a questionnaire of 10 questions and short answers.
“We will soon be introducing new innovative features for Ualter, aimed at making the news experience more and more comprehensive, visual, audio, interactive and social,” Ualter officials said.
You can see the tool at work in the following articles, which are open to all users:
How Javier Milei calculates that inflation could reach 15,000%.
Gaza war: Hamas threatens hostages as Israel warns terror group nears its end
Shared hypertension in couples over 50: what interventions can help lower blood pressure in pairs?
Before his Cabinet, Javier Milei called for a thorough review of the appointments made by Alberto Fernández and will demand that public employees be present in person.
How the tool works
Here is an example of the tool in action for the first article listed above:
Summary: At the top of the story, readers see a blue strip inviting them to click to display an AI summary of the article:
This is the Summary created by UalterAI:
The other alternatives for the user are listed below:
This is what unfolds in each of the cases:
Chronological order helps the reader see how the events around a story unfolded.
Highlights helps the reader understand the key points of the article.
Data helps provides an added layer of context to the article.
Names helps users better understand who the key people in a story are.
FAQ offers answers to questions related to the text
There is also a closing reminder to the reader that AI created content might contain errors.
Timeline and development of UalterAI
UalterAI is an independent project, created and developed by Gallo Media with a growing group of developers and UX and UI experts. Clarín has been on board from the start, and is the first implementation site.
Julián Gallo, founder of Gallo Media, explained how the project developed:
The initiative was launched in February 2023
After a development phase, implementation at Clarín was completed in the past three months.
The focus of the project was to create a copilot-like tool that would help to produce news in a better and simpler way.
The aim was to create reading modalities beyond traditional text.
“Text is a very suitable medium for extracting information because it is faster than speech, and therefore faster than audio or video. Studies on reading and speaking speed conclude that we read almost 100 more words per minute than we speak (we speak at about 150 words per minute and read, on average, at about 238 words per minute),” Gallo said.
Throughout history, the newspaper industry has established very interesting graphic techniques to help us scan texts”, such as bold, subtitles, boxes, etc. “AI presents us with the possibility of creating other ways of restructuring texts to make them easier to read,” Gallo said. “AI presents us with the possibility of creating other ways of restructuring texts to make them easier to read.”
“UalterAI is a reading assistant, that’s how we define it, as historically were book indexes, glossaries, numbering,” he added.
Reasoning for the chosen AI formats
The UalterAI team researched which reading formats could be most useful to readers. “Undoubtedly, the summary is the key, because it is the heart of access to any text,” Gallo said. UalterAI’s summaries of Clarín’s news items are usually 20 percent of the original text’s length, and in any case, depending on the text, they are between 15 and 30 percent.
The other formats chosen so far to present information through UalterAI – timeline, highlights, facts, names and FAQs – respond to what we usually look for when reading a text, Gallo said.
The data format is the one that provides the most value, according to Gallo, “because many times the data, the numbers, are difficult to see, they get lost. And it is not just a matter of extracting them, but of ordering them, classifying them and presenting them as a table,” which is what UalterAI does.
Approximately 30 percent of those readers who have accessed an article used UalterAI assistant.
Summary is the most used feature, which is logical because it is the default format. The second most used is the Data format.
The tool was initially offered in the Politics, Economy, Sports and World sections but now is available in all sections of Clarín. The publisher is deciding whether to include for opinion columns.
In the first days of operation, the team discovered things that needed to be fine-tuned, such as how the results offered by UalterAI are resolved with news that is updated throughout the day. “We will have to learn from the successes and mistakes” of the tool, Gallo said.
Gallo added he is grateful for the support received from Clarín for this project: “I say that we are on the readers’ side, and we were able to do this because Clarín made a bold decision. We have launched the experiment with a real audience, and the truth is that, for now, it is working very well,” he said.
UalterAI is conceived “as a platform to which we can add other media,” Gallo said. At the moment it works only for Clarín, but “with the API of any media, we could process it with UalterAI and return results automatically.”
Currently, all processes are automated, though in the future it is planned to propose a model that can be edited. If any type of error occurs, UalterAI can be deactivated in the corresponding news item or the process can be regenerated to correct it.
The index of names could, in the future, offer new possibilities for accessing information. “We are now collecting all the names that appear in the daily edition of Clarín, which would allow us to create, very easily, different forms of entry,” Gallo said.
UalterAI is “working on much more ambitious things to add even more value to the editions, always working in a complementary way, adding value to the media business and creating value for the reader,” he added.
UalterAI’s technology is multilingual, so it could work with any language.
In the future, “it is possible that UalterAI will also speak,” says Gallo.
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