Issue: First virtual newsreader
The world’s first virtual newsreader, Ananova, broadcast her first
transmission on 19 April. The venture was set up by the Press
Association’s new media arm, formerly known as PA New Media and
rebranded as Ananova. Development of the service has been several months
in the making, with a strategic PR plan implemented to drive awareness
prior to Ananova’s debut transmission.
Ananova is a digitally rendered, fully-animated internet newscaster and
information provider. PA New Media had been running since 1994 and acted
as the Press Association’s realtime on-line news and information
The rebrand as Ananova aims to give the service a ’real face’ tipping
the balance away from a purely text-based information provider.
Once the web service is fully up and running it will enable users to
access information services, as well as providing hourly news
The latter is its standard service and will act as the equivalent to a
TV news programme. The information service, however, will allow users to
customise the site to their own needs.
The web site is very similar visually to other news sites with a
generous use of colour and extensive branding. Information is delivered
in text format, apart from when the user views a news bulletin. This is
when Ananova appears in a box in the right hand corner of the
She is convincingly animated with an array of facial expressions. Her
accent is mid-Atlantic with nasal undertones. Her designers conceived
her as a 28-year-old, comprising the physical elements of, among others,
Carol Vorderman and Kylie Minogue.
The web site is written very much from the perspective of Ananova the
’person.’ Her identity is crucial to its success: the factor that
differentiates this information service from any other is that she is
animated and possesses a ’personality’.
Although at present she can only speak English there are plans to allow
her to speak other languages. Her programming enables her to interpret
text into speech and to deliver news in the emotional tone that the
story requires. So ’bad news’ will be delivered in an appropriately
sombre manner, and amusing stories with a humorous intonation.
Ananova has positioned itself as the ’friendly face’ of information.
What remains to be seen is whether that ’face’ will inject enough of a
human aspect to a technological medium.