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WBUR Builds on Election Coverage with Innovative, Interactive ‘Mass. Ballot Guide’ Alexa Skill

Continuing to solidify its reputation as a center for innovation within public media, WBUR has launched a new interactive voice skill for Amazon Alexa-enabled devices.

“Mass. Ballot Guide” leverages voice technology to help listeners understand the two ballot questions in Massachusetts in the 2020 election with reporting from WBUR reporters Simón Rios and Callum Borchers. The skill expands on existing election-related coverage across multiple WBUR media platforms including written articles, radio broadcasts, video explainers and a limited-edition newsletter called Mass. Election Prep.

The Alexa skill acts as a guide through the ins-and-outs of Question 1: the “Right to Repair” law and Question 2: Ranked-choice voting. In addition, the skill includes an interactive quiz on each ballot question to help voters retain their new knowledge. Finally, it marks another step forward for WBUR’s exploration of new technology to inform our audience wherever it chooses to listen.

The skill was developed and producedWBUR’s Project CITRUS, a grant-funded team that endeavors to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of WBUR’s digital audio news. WBUR created the skill in partnership with Earplay, a Boston-based company that provides technology and services for interactive audio creators and publishers to build, deploy and manage voice experiences.

“At WBUR, we are committed to innovation,” said David Moore, head of WBUR’s Project CITRUS. “The audio landscape is obviously transforming, and we want to meet our audience where they are.”

Jack Mitchell, who developed the skill, added: “We wanted to unpack voting issues in ways that are easy to understand and help listeners better retain the facts. And best of all, the skill empowers listeners to become active participants in the experience.”

If you have an Amazon device, you can try the skill by simply saying:

“Alexa, open Mass. Ballot Guide”

And, you can listen to WBUR any time by asking your voice assistant to “play WBUR.”

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