Revolutionizing Journalism with AI: Exploring latakoo’s Vision for the Future of News Production

In the fast evolving landscape of journalism, technology continues to shape the way news is gathered, produced and delivered. Latakoo, an end-to-end video workflow solution used by broadcasters worldwide, is at the forefront of this transformation.

Here, we present a vision of how generative AI can potentially assist faster, more accurate and powerful journalism globally. Drawing from our experience as former journalists, we recently opened an AI Conference for journalists, hosted by a major US broadcast group. We brainstormed with our team on the potential of AI to enhance news production workflows and ultimately elevate journalism’s impact.

We spent over two decades each as journalists before founding latakoo. Our passion for reporting and early adoption of technology paved the way for the innovative workflow solutions we now provide to the broadcasting industry and influence the way we think about artificial intelligence.

Unleashing the Power of AI

Latakoo has an ambitious goal: to create tools that not only support but also sustain journalism, a cornerstone of a functioning democracy. AI, often seen as a disruptive force, can be a potential ally and act as a journalist’s superpower, magnifying their impact, speed and knowledge. Let’s offer a glimpse into a day in the life of a news team equipped with AI tools. This hypothetical scenario paints a vivid picture of how AI could revolutionise news production workflows, making the processes more efficient and insightful.

Morning Meeting: AI-Generated Story Ideas

At the beginning of the day, an AI assistant helps the assignment editor by creating a prioritised list of potential stories. Drawing from press releases, e-mails, transcribed phone calls, reporter story ideas and previously produced content, the AI assists in creating an initial list. Next, the AI uses data from the broadcaster’s story and analytics archives to assess audience interest and conforms the list to best suit the community the news station serves.

Real-time Assistance: Covering Breaking News

When breaking news occurs, while the reporter and photographer are still in route to the scene, the AI assistant gathers relevant information about the event. It pulls up background information on the people or locations involved with the breaking news, previous stories that may be connected and public records to provide the incoming news crew with comprehensive context. This enables them to provide more informed and impactful coverage, all while maintaining the human touch.

AI’s Guiding Hand: Crafting and Editing Stories

As reporters craft their stories, the AI’s role continues to provide efficiencies. It aids in arranging archival video clips, organising content by relevance and even highlighting potential propaganda or factual inaccuracies. The AI assistant may even be able to sketch out an initial script that takes into account what the AI already knows and has checked. The reporter would add her facts and confirm the AI’s scripted information. With this, AI proves to be a valuable editorial partner, ensuring the accuracy and quality of news content.

AI-Enhanced Newscast: Personalisation and Insights

When it’s time to produce the newscast, AI steps in to suggest an order that maximises audience engagement. AI can also personalise the newscast for individual viewers based on their location and interests. This personalisation not only empowers viewers with tailored content but also opens avenues for revenue growth.

The AI Journalist’s Superpower: A Dual Role

AI must always be seen as a support tool, not a replacement for a human journalist. While AI can generate content, it lacks the discernment and human touch required for ethical and impactful journalism. Together, AI and journalists can be a powerful combination. The AI augments human effort, making the journalists more efficient and the journalism more impactful.

A Collaborative Future

AI’s integration into journalism is not a distant future, but a present reality. A variety of tools are already helping journalists to search, to write, to edit and to verify facts. AI-assisted journalism has the potential to save time, enhance productivity and elevate the quality of news content. Early adoption of AI tools by journalists will play a pivotal role in shaping the technology’s evolution and reaping its benefits. Journalists and news organisations need to develop a plan for how AI is used in their ecosystem. In order to truly experience the powerful efficiencies of AI in broadcasting, journalists should also be using a cloud based system that automates their video workflows and allows them to collaborate with team members from anywhere in the world.

Championing Accountability: AI and Verification

As AI-generated content becomes more prevalent, ensuring accuracy becomes paramount. We applaud journalists who are already focusing on fact-checking and verifying information. New initiatives using AI and humans to check the facts serve as a reminder that AI’s potential in news reporting can only be fully harnessed when paired with journalistic integrity and accountability.

The Future Unveiled

We’ve painted a vivid picture of an AI-enhanced newsroom, where technology seamlessly collaborates with human journalists. This synergy has the potential to revolutionise news production, enhance audience engagement and contribute to the growth of ethical and impactful journalism. As we stand at the precipice of a new era, latakoo’s vision encourages us to embrace the possibilities and responsibilities that AI brings to the realm of journalism.

The One Thing You Should Know About Ukraine

A First-Hand Account of Russia’s War on Ukraine from a latakoo Team Member
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Vova and his wife were both born and raised in Ukraine.

Moving swiftly to the underground parking garage when the dreaded sirens go off outside their apartment has become the norm for one of our team members and his wife who live in Ukraine. Vova, who has been a software engineer with latakoo for the last 7 years, lives in the Western part of the country that is currently under attack by Russia. He said the sirens, meant to warn anyone within earshot of potential threats, have been going off about four times a day. In fact, he had to abruptly jump off the Zoom call during our weekly latakoo team meeting last week. We were all wearing colors of the Ukrainian flag that day, and had changed our virtual backgrounds to show our support.

“That’s why I left the meeting because of the alert system sirens,” said Vova. “It means that something like a flying object enters our region.”

Vova, 29, said the scariest moment so far was when the Russians flew a drone into the region. It was thankfully defused by the Ukrainian air defense system. He and his wife are sleeping in two hour shifts to ensure they don’t sleep through a warning siren. When the sirens do blare, they take refuge in their concrete parking garage. Vova said each time they go, they grab a backpack sitting by the door that they’ve filled with snacks and toiletries because they never know how long they’ll be stuck in the shelter. Their car is parked in the garage and provides a more comfortable place for them to sit or sleep. Not everyone in the shelter has a car, so Vova and his neighbors brought in folding chairs so no one has to sit on the cold, hard surface. They’ve also added a shelf to keep food items that don’t require preparation, and a portable toilet for the group to use.

      
Vova said he and his wife are nervous and extremely angry about the situation their country is in.

“I feel anger in terms of Russians and I feel anger because I can’t do anything except for volunteering,” said Vova. “You can only do what you can do from where you are.”

Instead of worrying about themselves, Vova and his wife have been focusing on the safety of others. As refugees from Eastern Ukraine flood into their city, they’re helping coordinate places for them to live and are donating clothing and other necessary items.  They’ve made trips to drug stores to search for vital medications refugees are requesting, but Vova said finding it has been a big challenge because most drug stores are closed, or the shelves are empty.

Leaving their home is also difficult and scary. Authorities are instructing people to stay indoors between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. When they do get out, it’s only to go to the market to buy necessities. Gas stations are out of gas, so driving anywhere is no longer an option. Vova said there are police everywhere in his neighborhood. Citizens are required to stop and show documentation and passports if they do need to leave the city.

Vova, who’s a BMW car enthusiast, has been staying on top of what’s happening across the country through an online community he was already a part of. The group, which typically chats and bonds over their car obsession, is made up of Ukrainians who live in various cities all over the country. People are constantly posting pictures and videos to keep each other informed about what’s happening where they live.

Those living in Kyiv, the capital and most populated city in Ukraine which is under siege, said they’ve had to sit in shelters anywhere from 11 to 18 hours at a time.

“One of them said a man went out just to buy food for his pregnant wife and was shot right at the entrance of their parking lot,” said Vova.

Getting his mind off the horrible events happening to his homeland is nearly impossible, but Vova said being able to continue working from home through this war and developing new technologies for latakoo has helped him de-stress and takes his mind off of what’s going on around him. He knows his work is also vital to journalists covering the war in his homeland. Vova is also an extremely talented musician, and has been known to show off those skills to our latakoo team and clients. In 2020, he put his own latakoo spin on the Beatles hit “Let It Be” and played a portion of “Jingle Bells” with his electric guitar for our 2021 holiday video.

The latakoo team is in constant communication with Vova via Zoom and Skype. Everyone keeps asking Vova, “How can we help? What can we do?” He said the best thing is to know where Ukraine is located.

“Before this, the hardest part was that everyone saw Ukraine as part of Russia,” said Vova. “We are always trying to say we’re not Russians – we’re completely different.”

Vova finds some solace in the fact that he is also helping journalists tell the stories of Ukrainians by using latakoo, the service that he helps to support. 

We will continue to keep you updated on Vova’s situation and pass any information along he feels is important to share. If you’re looking for ways to help, Vova recommended these two donation organizations: Come Back Alive and Humanitarian Assistance.

Celebrating the Women of latakoo

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we want to recognize the six incredible women on our latakoo team who make a difference each and every day. These women are true leaders – overcoming obstacles, challenging the status quo and serving as role models for the next generation of women in tech. Get to know them here. 

 

Jade Kurian

Co-Founder and President

How long have you been at latakoo?

Paul Adrian and I co-founded latakoo in 2010. I have run operations for the company as President since then.

Where are you located? 

Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

I love what we do, the solutions we provide, the people and groups we serve and how we interact and collaborate as a team. We provide a much needed and widely embraced solution for content providers, especially journalists. I believe good journalism is at the heart of creating good communities and great democracies. And our customers are the reason we exist. They work with us as we test user interface and functionalities, giving us nuggets of wisdom on their workflows and needs. Our team is a mix of people from around the world, all with unique understandings of humanity and technology, but each one contributes in respectful and meaningful ways to find new solutions. I couldn’t love my work as much if I didn’t have this team that always wants to do their best, always responds and always shows compassion and kindness to each other and our customers.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

My whole life, I have been in rooms where the female to male ratio of employees was drastically unbalanced. I still show up to meetings where I am the only woman on the call. I don’t think that being a woman in tech is all that different than being a woman in many other industries. Women represent about half the workforce in America and about 25% of the technology workforce. Most women, especially minority women, must work harder and fight for a seat at the table. Any time one woman joins a tech company, being paid the same as a male worker in the same role, it helps the whole. 

I’m a realistic optimist or practical optimist. I would say things are getting better. There are quite a few encouraging indicators. More girls are getting into computer science and science at younger ages. More women are graduating with degrees in technical fields. Funding for female-led companies is beginning to pick up, although it’s not anywhere near the level it should be, and it does not compare to male-led companies. NASDAQ’s minimum diversity requirement will be helpful in encouraging companies to add women and minorities to the board.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

I’m proud of this company and the people that continue to build it with me. I enjoy working hard, even if I had to work harder to have a voice. Because I accept that things are not set up to be fair, I operate with the mantra that nobody is coming to save me or help me; I must help myself.  I’m proud that I’ve been able to figure it out and come out on the other side with some strength and resilience. 

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?

I was born into a home with no running water or electricity. As a child, I regularly bathed in a river or showered outside. When I first felt hot water from a shower, I was shocked.  Now, I take ice baths and cold showers for workout recovery, and I feel quite comfortable in the cold water.  My trainer also says that of all his clients (men and women), I scored the best time for “the 300,” a workout that includes a heavy number of burpees. I’m sort of proud of that!

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

I am inspired by people who get things done. I am in awe of the doers. We’ve all seen them. They just plow through, no complaining or a little complaining and a lot of doing, no matter what happens. From Mahatma Gandhi to MLK to my mother, who immigrated to the US as a nurse, leaving everything she knew for a new life and then, built that life. I am also fiercely inspired by those who protect animals and our environment. I am a vegan, and I am really inspired by vegan athletes. For so long, there was this idea that to be a great athlete, you had to eat meat. There are so many incredible athletes who are disproving that, including Rich Roll. I listen to Rich’s podcasts and nearly all of them are inspiring in some way. We can have rich lives and healthier bodies, improve our environment and reduce global warming by not eating animals.

 

Erica Woods

Account Executive & Customer Success

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for two months, but seven years in the tech/start-up world altogether.

Where are you located? 

I currently live in Canada but also live in Arizona.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo?

The people and the culture of the company.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

It means that I get to contribute – in a modern way – to create seats for women who will come after me at the table that was built by women before me.

What are you most proud of as a woman?

I’m really proud to be a woman whose goal is always to raise up women, to offer support and to cheer in our collective victories!

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

Two things: I used to be a janitor in high school, and I used to drive a city bus.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

It’s difficult to name one person. I find that I am lucky enough to have found myself surrounded by many friends, family and colleagues who I admire because of their strength, courage, kindness and wisdom.

 


Carolina Subotovsky

UI/UX Designer

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I have been at latakoo for a year and a half.

Where are you located? 

I am in Florianópolis, Brazil.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The challenges of building products to aid people with their jobs

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

It means that we can do whatever jobs we want to do (even those that were originally ruled by men).

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

Not just as a woman, but as a human being: being strong, independent and determined.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

I participated in a contest for teenagers building a space colony.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

My aunt. She traveled a lot by herself, defying all preconceptions.

 

Ryan Emmons

Customer Success Director and Chief Designer

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for 8 and 1/2 years. (I can’t believe it’s been this long!)

Where are you located? 

I live in Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

I never get bored.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

I love working for a company that prioritizes women and equality. To me it means shattering all the standards that came before, so hopefully the next generation doesn’t even have to think twice about working in a once male-dominated field.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

I’m very proud of my work ethic and how much I’ve grown over the years. I started as a preschool teacher with a studio art degree and have worked my way to a great position at an amazing tech company.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

Most people are surprised to learn that I am a woman because of my name. If I had a dollar for every time I got called sir via email…

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

My family. I come from a long line of very tough, hard-working women who have always inspired me to try and be as badass and giving as they were.

 

Greta Yastrzemski

Executive Assistant & Customer Success Associate

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for over two years now.

Where are you located? 

I am located in Florida.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The people!  Also, there’s never a dull moment! Each day gives me a chance to stretch and grow.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

That there are no limits to what you can achieve.

What are you most proud of as a woman?
That I’ve been able to re-enter the workforce after being a stay-at-home mother to twin boys for over 13 years.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you?
My previous career was as a hair designer.

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

It is impossible for me to single out just one person – my family, my friends, different people with whom I’ve worked, as well as currently. They each in their own way have inspired me to become a better sister, daughter, friend, mother and coworker. I’m lucky to have such amazing people in my life and forever grateful for each of them.

 

Erin Cargile

Director of Content and Training

How long have you been at latakoo? 

I’ve been at latakoo for nine months.

Where are you located? 

I live in Austin, Texas.

What do you enjoy most about working at latakoo? 

The people we work with — this includes my coworkers and our thousands of customers. Both are extremely driven, gifted at what they do and work amazingly well together to achieve the same goal: continuously improve video workflows. And I will never get over the amazing view overlooking Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin from our office.

What does it mean for you to be a woman in tech?

I always laugh when I hear this because I was a local news reporter for 17 years before joining latakoo. I am the least tech-savvy person I know, but part of my job is to train users on our technology who are just like me. What I am good at is communicating and breaking things down in a way that’s easy to understand. I also used latakoo as a journalist before joining the company. So, to me, being a woman in tech means embracing what you think you don’t know or aren’t good at and being confident in the skills and experience you bring to the table.

What are you most proud of as a woman? 

Surviving childbirth! And not being afraid to speak up in a positive way last year when I felt like the company I worked for at the time should be offering a better parental leave policy for its employees that was more in line with benefits other comparable companies were offering. It was actually on International Women’s Day last year when I was home on maternity leave and sitting there holding my new baby boy when I thought: I can’t just keep complaining to my friends about it – I have to say something to those who have the power to change it. Seeing other social media posts from strong women that morning gave me the guts to say this is not ok and I hope we can work to change it. Once I voiced my thoughts, other employees reached out to me and wanted to share their stories and do whatever they could to help lobby for a new policy. A few months later the company announced it would be improving its parental leave policy for all employees starting in 2022. I also did a TEDx Talk a couple of years ago on the power of being told “no,” and how when I think this is going to be the answer or someone flat out tells me “no,” that it usually lights a fire under me and serves as motivation to keep working toward a “yes.” That reaction has served me well in life.

What is one thing people might be surprised to learn about you? 

I was a competitive gymnast as a child and can still do a back handspring. That’s not to say I can move very well the next day after doing it, but muscle memory is incredible!

Name someone who’s been a role model or inspiration in your life. 

Many people have inspired me for many different reasons over the course of my life including Jade, who is an incredible mentor, role model and leader here at latakoo and who does it all with grace. I would have to say my mother and grandmother rubbed off on me the most and made me the person I am today. They’ve taught me to be extremely driven and hard-working, to never settle for mediocre and are incredibly humble, kind and gracious. They’ve always instilled in me women can do anything, and usually do it better.

 

We are grateful for everything these women do for latakoo. Join us in celebrating these women for Women’s History Month. 

Into the Lion’s Den: Lessons from Entrepreneurship

On a sunny day, I walked confidently into my first day at work for one of the bigger television stations in the US, feeling pretty good about my new reporting job. A photographer welcomed me and with a smirk and a smile, he said in a whisper, “Welcome to the lion’s den, kid. You’re fresh meat. Be careful.” It was his warning that I had to have my own back and being the new person didn’t mean I would get any breaks. That was the television world at that time. Get it done, get it done right or move aside. Your competition was everyone. My journey as a broadcast journalist was one that tested me in almost every possible way until I became an entrepreneur.

It was a real honor to share the tests of entrepreneurship with the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) Tech Talk in November. I love talking latakoo every chance I get. We’ve come quite a distance since my co-founder and I created latakoo in 2010. It’s always my hope that someone will hear something that speaks to them and it helps them in their journey and success.

The DWEN talk, with Intel’s Global Sales Director Sarah Wieskus moderating, focused on the topic of How to Position Your Business for the Future. That’s something most entrepreneurs are thinking about. At latakoo, one of our goals is to build the future of content collaboration and sharing.  Our video workflow company is always working to meet the ever-changing needs of the largest broadcasting companies in the world. 

Please do watch our full Empower Hour chat here. A big thanks to Sarah, Intel and Dell!

If you can’t watch, I put together a list below from our chat of my tips for entrepreneurs and best practices that have helped me and our company grow. I certainly haven’t done it alone and I’m still learning. My co-founder Paul Adrian and I share these three qualities: We love to learn, we’re big on research and data, and we don’t like to quit.

I really do wake up every morning and think, “I can’t wait to go to work!” As a business owner, yes, I’m always working, but what I mean is I can’t wait to engage with my team, and I can’t wait to solve problems for my clients. 

That doesn’t mean every day is full of roses. There have been many challenging times along the way. As I said during the talk, I knew starting a business wouldn’t be a cakewalk, but I didn’t know how hard it would be to build a company starting with an idea and taking it to profitability within 5 years. I hope these tips and lessons learned help you and your future. Best of luck!

 

MY BEST PRACTICES AND TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS

  • Try to do something every single day that grows your business
  • Listen intently to your clients’ needs, and work to come up with solutions 
  • My main ingredients to survival and success:

             • Persistence

             • Grit

             • Not backing down

             • Not letting go entirely, but enough so that others can do their jobs

             • Taking a step every day toward a goal

             • Tackle one problem one at a time, and don’t let them overwhelm you

             • Having realistic expectations

  • When should you ask for help?

             • We bring in help for two reasons: When you or your team become inefficient, and tasks are taking too long, or when we need a specialist.

 

IF YOU’RE LOOKING TO START A BUSINESS

  • It’s important to have an idea of how much bandwidth you have to contribute to it.
  • If you can’t give it your full focus, it’s likely to be much  tougher. Also, investors generally don’t invest in part-timers.
  • When it comes to the financial investment, bootstrap for as long as you can.
  • If you can, find a way to build your business, instead of spending all your time trying to raise investment.
  • If you’re creating something that’s a solution for your clients, then focus on the clients and what they need.
  • Success means having the freedom to create and make your own decisions. Don’t rely on others to make your decisions. Listen to everyone who gives you advice with a mind to evaluate the advice before acting on it. 
  • It’s important to have mentors you can go to for counsel who are always cheering you on, but also not afraid to be honest and give you a reality check.
  • Make your decisions based on research and data first, but don’t ignore your gut feelings.
  • If you’re an entrepreneur because you want to provide a solution and you are dedicated, then you’re going to figure it out.

 

I think about missed opportunities, often giving a good deal of thought to things I didn’t do well and how I could improve next time. At the DWEN talk, someone asked about books that helped me. I answered that I have a ton of  books. Lots of Malcolm Gladwell. None of them were top of mind at the time so I spoke about finding people who are actually doing something and understanding their examples. I want to add to that here. I enjoy being a learner. I try not to make decisions without data and research. Reading and listening are obviously integral to learning. I don’t always want to read a book that’s self-help or business related because I need an escape. My current read is a psychological thriller. Having said that, my favorite read in 2021 was “Breath,” by James Nestor. A fellow female entrepreneur friend gifted it to me. James Nestor is again, someone who is out there doing what it takes to change his life and the lives of others. He did research on himself to cure his illness. In this book, he provides research and methods on the healing power of our breath. Whether we want to deal with stress or improve our performance, breathing the right way and focusing on the breath, makes a difference. Here’s more about Nestor’s mission and how it can help you deal with stress. 

I also read lots of blogs on Medium, check the New York Times and Washington Post daily and I have several podcasts that I frequent on my runs, including The Rich Roll Podcast and Masters of Scale with Reid Hoffman. Roll is an ultra athlete and a vegan. I’m a runner and a vegan. Roll brings on guests who are inspirational in their quests in life, people who are trying to change the world, save the planet, help animals, live longer, live better. Rich Roll is one of the reasons I am a vegan. Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, meanwhile focuses on how founders scaled their companies, telling the origin stories of companies that scaled successfully, with people sharing their challenges and lessons. One of the reasons I enjoy Masters of Scale is Hoffman’s genuine love for entrepreneurs and what they do. One of my favorite quotes about entrepreneurship comes from Hoffman, “An entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down.”

Like a lot of entrepreneurs, I am definitely that kid who asked “why” a lot, defying some of the rules. Why does it have to be this way? Why can’t we do it better? Why is this the rule? Not every rule is right or efficient or good. Sometimes to change things, you have to step into the lion’s den and figure your way out.

If You’re Not Using latakoo Pilot NextGen, You’re Missing Out

You know the feeling when you go to the grocery store and they’ve rearranged the aisles? You’re immediately annoyed because now the quick trip isn’t going to be so quick anymore as you struggle to learn the new layout. Why is it so hard to find a loaf of bread?! But with each shopping trip you get a little more comfortable, and can’t seem to recall how things were before. The reasons behind the changes become more clear as you discover new items the store was making room for with the new design. The end goal was to create more options and a better experience for customers.

While latakoo Pilot isn’t exactly a grocery store, it is the spot multimedia teams depend on around the clock to get the files they need. It’s the magical place in the cloud where our community of content creators view, download and share videos, pictures and audio uploaded through latakoo. As our technology and offerings evolve, a new Pilot was needed to grow along with it. October 13, 2021 was an exciting day, to say the least, as we rolled out the new and improved Pilot NextGen to our users.

 

 

What Changed?

The before and after is drastic. Not only did the new site get a visual makeover, but the updated Pilot is packed full of new features and functionality that our team thoughtfully designed based on feedback from real users who drive everything we do at latakoo. Turning on the new Pilot for everyone was as simple as the click of a button, but the transformation was years in the making. 

Some of the biggest upgrades include new options that allow users to personalize their Pilot. You can create a custom list of Selected Networks that you access the most, eliminating extra time spent scrolling through a long list of choices. Click on the video below to see how.


The all new List View displays files more like a spreadsheet and is also fully customizable to fit your workflow. The added Bulk Action buttons enable users to delete, download, move and copy multiple files at once. There’s also the noticeably larger and smarter video player that offers a much better viewing experience.
Click here to view the new latakoo Pilot Basic Guide.


Post-Release Fixes & Enhancements

latakoo Pilot NexGen has now been out for testing for a full month, and we want to thank you for communicating issues you’ve found as you use the new system. Our team has been working diligently to push fixes.

Here’s what our team has resolved to date:

  • Improved search results
  • Sharing links (direct and embed)
  • Saving, moving and copying metadata
  • No more % in downloaded file names
  • MPEG2 transcodes


These are the improvements coming soon: 

  • Ability to rename files
  • Audio file thumbnail in certain web browsers
  • Group upload file names
  • Ability to download individual elements from a group
  • Isolate individual audio tracks


Valuable user feedback has already led to latakoo Pilot enhancements. A client asked if it was possible to add a progress bar so they could track the status of files through the entire latakoo system — letting them know the second a file is uploaded to the moment it’s landed in their asset management system. The short answer was: YES! Our team at latakoo has always had access to this data behind the hood, but producing that data in a way that you could easily digest it required quite a bit of designing and building. We are happy to report it’s now available to users through the new File Tracking feature built into latakoo Pilot. Similar to a FEDEX or UPS package tracker, with our Flight Tracker, you get to see the arrival points and times for your file.

 


When will Classic Pilot go away?

At your grocery store, changes are usually made with zero heads up or adjustment period for shoppers. At latakoo, we wanted our users to ease into this new territory at their own speed, and be able to go back to the old system as needed. That’s why, when Pilot NextGen became the default, we put the “Back to Classic Pilot” button right at the top for users to click on any time and go back to what they were comfortable with.

Our hope is that you’ve started living in the new Pilot full-time. If not, give it a try! Once our team tackles the list of improvements above, Classic will go away and NextGen will become the main Pilot. The important thing to remember is that Pilot NextGen is running on the latest technology with an optimized database, allowing for more speed and flexibility. We will be sure and communicate to you with plenty of notice as Classic Pilot is retired. You can look forward to more updates as we continue to provide the tools and technology to simplify your workflows. 

The Interoperability of Being

As ridiculous as it sounds, multiple people get a notification every time my cat, Raja, uses his smart litter robot and any time there is a sound in my hallway. I or someone else can act on those notifications with connected devices. Does Raja’s litter need to be changed or is he just tripping the system? The robot will tell us. Is there a package at my door? The camera will let us know. App makers connect us to our pets, our cars, our fridges, our shoes. We live in the age of connection and while broadcast has been slower to the trend, we’re now seeing a growing demand for interoperability and flexibility in the enterprise broadcast and media sector.

“For years, people sat on panels and said the NRCS (Newsroom Computer System) needed to be that interconnect. Everybody listened. Nobody did anything about it,” said Blake Russell, the Executive VP for Station Operations and Content Development at the Nexstar Media Group. Mr. Russell envisioned a world where multiple systems opened up secure endpoints to connect with the newsroom computer system. “That’s our NASA, our Mission Control,” he explained. Nexstar owns, operates or provides service to 199 television stations and their related signals reach approximately 62% of all U.S. television households.

Mr. Russell and Nexstar were among the first to push for this, but they are not alone. This has become a routine request from media clients. Recently a buyer said, “We really love having our video and transcriptions and metadata in latakoo, but I like that it also shows up in Avid.” latakoo’s backbone is built on agnostic collaboration. Our cloud infrastructure and API exist in such a way that we can provide secure connections to integration partners.

There’s a natural instinct for self-preservation: a catch in the throat, a protective fear that occurs when broadcast vendors talk about interoperability. No matter what customers want, it sounds suspiciously like we are being asked to build a bridge into our service that allows some other company to sell something to our customers that maybe we could have built and sold ourselves. Why give up business to an interloper? After all, this is not the consumer web. We support a niche industrial market that some of us have carefully developed, groomed and served for decades.

And when I say “we,” there are doubtlessly some tenured technology vendors who look at latakoo today and see an “interloper.” The reality is that whether we’re talking about new technology startups in a market or newly arrived immigrants to a country, the temptation once one has arrived and survived is to immediately turn around, close and bolt the door. Let’s build a wall, because we can clearly handle things from here. I can understand the trepidations here as I am both an immigrant and a startup technology founder, but we can’t let fear create handcuffs.

While the temptation is strong to create closed branded ecosystems with locked-in customers, there are at least two problems with this bar-the-door strategy. First, it is a guaranteed superhighway to mediocrity. And second, it does not serve the best interests of our customers. Truly free markets are scary precisely because they are not protected, and that means that some innovator (not interloper) can surprise and disrupt the market with a superior service or business model. That is also why free markets are awesome for customers. Innovators create the future through their imagination and skilled execution. Everyone benefits.

After Eliud Kipchoge, a personal hero and the Kenyan marathoner, ran his epic sub two-hour marathon, he said, “No human is limited.” His “why” resonated with the world, “The reason for running 1:59 is not the performance. The reason to run 1:59 is to tell that farmer that he is not limited; that teacher that she can produce good results in school; that engineer… that he can go to another project.” Kipchoge built a team of rivals to get it done, pacemakers who were among the world’s best distance runners. That’s how records get broken. And sometimes during the race, competitors discover they are faster when they collaborate.

For years, broadcast and media customers asked vendors to provide easy access to superior solutions under one umbrella. “We need to remove the level of complexity to use broadcast technologies and find out how we can all get along within the same environment,” said Mr. Russell. “You don’t need six things, each doing one element alone. You need one thing that can talk to everything and it has to be secure.”

Like almost every major station group in the United States today, the Nexstar Media Group grew quickly as it acquired other station groups. This created a communications challenge which the Nexstar team brought to latakoo. How does a station group operating in 100+ markets realize its potential economies of scale through real time communication and content sharing? Another station group simultaneously described the same scenario. We tackled the challenge and called our solution, Manifest.

At its heart, Manifest is a searchable index of assignments that allows users to quickly discover what is being produced that day throughout the company. Teams can search through a huge organization’s assignments by category, geographic region and precise search terms. They can follow developing stories they discover for updates and request that the content be delivered directly to them the moment a journalist turns in a story by sending the finished product through latakoo from the field to that reporter’s home station.

Like every other part of latakoo, Manifest can exist on its own or it can integrate into another asset management system. For Mr. Russell’s team, there’s no time to duplicate work by re-entering data in more than one place. Instead, the systems used by reporters need to synchronize so that the same information and content is available on every platform they use. Today, Manifest already seamlessly integrates with three of the world’s most used Newsroom Computer Systems as well as a custom assignments system, called Daybook, built and used by Nexstar.

This year, latakoo is participating in the roll out of another collaboration product that provides broadcasters the benefits of two companies, each doing what they do best. The Panasonic US team reached out to us earlier this year with a proposition. Their PTZ (Pan, Tilt, Zoom) cameras are in demand, and they’ve got low latency streaming video built right into the cameras. The challenge their customers face is easily setting up the necessary web systems to support the cameras. Could latakoo help? As a web- based software service provider, latakoo used the tools Panasonic baked into its cameras to easily discover the cameras on a LAN, to send the video to the cloud, to control the cameras from anywhere in the world and to direct the video stream to on-premise broadcast playout. Panasonic makes hardware solutions. latakoo makes software services. Marry the two and broadcasters receive the collaborative benefits of each company’s specialty skillset.

All of this is not to say that companies should ever walk away from the creation of any disruptive service or product they see fit to produce. The key is to go ahead and build the things you know are needed in the marketplace, but also negotiate an entry point for others to integrate. Vendors will do better if customers choose their service because it’s better and not because customers feel chained inside their matrix.

Look great. Make slot. How the pros send video.

How do you send video files back to your station? Do you stick to a regimented daily schedule and allow time to send files? Or, are you working remotely, at the mercy of your deadline and Internet bandwidth?

As journalists, we know firsthand how complex it can be to figure out how long a file will take to send with the available Internet connection – or whether you need to make that file smaller to meet your deadline. In these cases,  a one-size-fits-all approach does not work.

We gathered three broadcast experts to find out their methodology to transfer files back to the station. Along with Richard Metzler, our Video Scientist here at latakoo, our group discussed the best approach to sending video fast while maintaining broadcast quality. Here is what we found out.

How Wes Rapaport Sends Video

Wes Rapaport, the Austin Bureau reporter for Nexstar Media Group, serves more than 100 stations each day with content from the Texas capital city. He says that while he works to send his stories at least 30 minutes before the broadcast, there are days when breaking news intervenes. His goal is to make sure the file not only arrives on time, but in a way that makes it seamless for those receiving the story across Nexstar stations.

“You’ve got some stations where there’s just one or two people doing most of the editing and producing, so my goal is to create a product that is the highest quality, but also can be downloaded in the simplest way,” says Rapaport. For that reason, he selects a high bit rate compression to send the video with the latakoo Flight app, delivering the file in a standard H.264, .mp4 format.

Wes noted there are times where bandwidth is just not available, such when he was covering a fire in the mountains of New Mexico. Working the story solo, time was limited and so was bandwidth. “There’s barely any (Internet) service out there. I’m making sure that I’m able to deliver the product when it’s supposed to be there, but also making sure that it’s high quality can be,” says Rapaport.

How Joe Little Sends Video

Quality is king for Joe Little, Director of Storytelling at KNSD-TV in San Diego. Little is also a faculty member with the National Press Photographers Association. The quality of his on-air work is so important to him, he told us, so he structures his entire day around allowing enough time for an uncompressed file upload with latakoo.

“I don’t compress my video ever. When I’m involved and I’m in control of my schedule, I back time my day like a producer. If my deadline is at 4:30 pm, then I need to start editing at 3:45 pm, which means I need to start writing by 3:15 pm. I build my day that way so I have time to send uncompressed files with latakoo, no matter where I am,” says Little.

How Jose Otero Manages Video

Jose Otero, the manager of technology KDEN in Denver, says his responsibility is to ensure stories look great when they are broadcast, no matter where they are coming from. One of the ways he ensures quality is to teach his team how to send files quickly with latakoo.

“Our team is only as good as their ability to use their tools. latakoo is one of those tools. They need to know what the application does and what time and bandwidth constraints are. We give them the tools, but they need to plan ahead,” says Otero.

Tips from latakoo Video Scientist Richard Metzler

latakoo’s Video Scientist Richard Metzler shared his tips on how to send video fast while complying with quality requirements.

1. If you’re in a rush, you’ll get better visual quality by reducing resolution compared bitrate.
2. For compatibility with most players and systems, always encode in AVC (h.264).
3. For most purposes, AVC (h.264) is sufficient.
4. If you need to move high quality, 4k video or beyond and have plenty of time and battery power to encode, then HEVC (h.265) is a better choice than AVC (h.264).

5. If you have to send an Intraframe-Only format (like ProRes, AVCI, and XDCAM) be sure you’re transferring over a fast and stable connection. These files are HUGE and will take time.
• If you use the latakoo app, you can safely preserve quality by compressing to the “Visually Lossless” setting, which will greatly decrease the overall transfer time.
• We recommend Visually lossless for all upload connections less than 50 Mbps, although in specific cases we might recommend that you use Visually Lossless compression even if your connection exceeds 200 Mbps up.
• But if you have over 200 Mbps of upload bandwidth and use the latakoo app, don’t hesitate to use the “No Compression” setting. There are improvements in the latest 6.5 series apps that can fill your bandwidth and send those files super fast. No need to compress first.

6. If you’re recording a conference, watch out for compatibility and visual issues caused by variable framerates and resolutions.
• Your best bet is to lock in a framerate between 15 and 30 fps in your conference software’s settings whenever you have a stable connection.
• If you don’t have a stable connection, drop the maximum resolution in the conference settings as low as you can tolerate.

For journalists and photographers committed to sending the highest quality file possible, we’ve got great news. The latakoo Flight app versions 6.5.4 or above has major speed improvements when sending uncompressed files.

That’s why we built the latakoo Flight application with the flexibility to simultaneously compress and send files – or to send the files with their original size and quality as quickly as possible. The application’s visible speed gauges and estimated upload times give journalists critical information they need for their environment and deadline.

However you choose to send your file – whether you structure your day so you have plenty of time to send your file without compression, or use the latakoo estimated upload times to choose a compression setting, latakoo gives you the flexibility send in a way that works best for you and your organization.

latakoo COVID success story

From our office in downtown Austin, Texas, there is a clear and often meditative view of the popular Lady Bird Lake and Trail, where on most days, you find hundreds of people enjoying the water or the trail. As Covid-19 began to permeate into Texas, it was like a valve suddenly shut off — the people disappeared. State and local governments issued lockdown orders. We sent our employees home. Our clients cleared out their newsrooms, production facilities and studios. Journalists began reporting from their living rooms instead of broadcast centers. Todd Bynum, KXAN-TV’s Chief Photographer told me, “We made sure laptops had the latakoo app installed, then handed them out to our crews and said, ‘you’re not coming back here for a few months, use latakoo to send us your stories, latakoo will be your friend.”

latakoo is a native cloud company celebrating our 10th anniversary this month. Our clients are some of the world’s largest broadcasters. Their staffers were already comfortable using latakoo to transfer files quickly and securely from around the world. As the pandemic set in, they began to count on us more than ever.

What we saw in the wake of the shutdowns was unprecedented usage by current clients – with uploads from users growing 172% year-over-year in just one month. In the case of one major broadcast client, users from one of its divisions, uploaded an explosive 1800% more minutes of video than in May 2019. latakoo’s cloud offers a platform for collaboration, downloading and viewing. One client streamed nearly 150,000 minutes of video in a single month, up an incredible 8,000% over the same month last year.

“We had been using latakoo as a one-way street prior to the coronavirus pandemic, taking files from the field, to the cloud, to the asset manager,” said Rick Erbach, News Director of WGNO, in New Orleans, Louisiana during a webinar in April. “Now we’ve turned it into a two-way street. MMJs will say,  ‘I need this video or that video.’ And so what we are doing now is putting that video up to the latakoo cloud so they can bring it down to their desktop at their home.” Erbach says latakoo has been a “newscast saver” during the pandemic.

As we were scaling our service and adapting to the demands of increased traffic, clients started asking to use latakoo to enable novel remote workflows. We have always nurtured a very collaborative relationship with our clients. I was not surprised when they called us with questions like, “What if we used latakoo to record live feeds coming in from press conferences?” 

We responded with rapid innovation. We set up workflows to create files from live streams, enabled cloud editing in beta and launched a unique disaster recovery workflow. And, our team pushed out a new service called Manifest to help teams discover, follow and request stories – ensuring delivery to multiple locations. Manifest integrates with AP’s ENPS and literally helps news teams manage stories from birth to broadcast.

The question that always comes up, “Did you already have a plan in place?” We did have an emergency response plan, but if we’re all being honest, we have to admit that we had never faced a pandemic. It’s like a breaking news story where the facts as you know it will change in an hour, in a day, in a month. You are forced to operate with only the here and now. Our marketing efforts, which included two major conferences, had to be shuffled as NAB and IBC cancelled shows. We’re sponsoring and producing more webinars and using public relations teams in Europe and the U.S. to supplement marketing. 

My heart sinks and I feel pangs of guilt when I hear about companies that have shuttered. We are growing and adding staff. I remember the days when buyers were skeptical about “cloud” solutions. Now people are pandemic-proofing by using cloud companies. We don’t know for sure how it will all shake out, but we believe the way to continued growth is to listen carefully to our clients, intelligently and efficiently build what they will use, pivot as needed and continuously be ready for change. 

Our view is back, hundreds of people once again in the lake and trail here, but as the pandemic rages on, it’s clear that nothing will ever be the same. 

Taking the pain out of home work

The news anchor you’ve been watching report from their living room or kitchen, may be there for a while, as the coronavirus infection continues to set new records. Most television news broadcasters have dramatically limited the number of people in newsrooms and studios in order to protect their employees and prevent the infection from spreading. 

According to The At-Home Studio And The Future Of News Workflow webinar hosted by TV News Check on July 23, a majority of the attendees plan to keep more than 50% of their staff off-site permanently.

Broadcasters are increasingly turning to companies that facilitate their teams’ ability to work from anywhere. latakoo is one of those solutions, enabling the fast transfer of files from anywhere to anywhere, whether it’s to the broadcast studio or to a colleague for collaboration. latakoo users can transfer a file one time and have it arrive at multiple destinations with multiple workflows. 

Hats off to the journalists out there who are doing this important work,” said Jade Kurian, president and co-founder of latakoo. “These news crews are out there, protecting the rest of us and we are so happy to be able to support them.”

Austin-based latakoo has seen explosive growth in the usage of its file transfer and cloud-based system. In just one instance, a single news division is sending more than 32,000 files a month, or 1800% more files than in May of last year.

For many clients, latakoo was a known software tool that became the preferred way to move files when the pandemic began. “As far as sending video, latakoo was already a well-established workflow for us. We just expanded upon that once we started working from home and it has been super successful,” said Keith Barbaria, VP of Technology for NBC Boston, NBC Sports Boston, Telemundo Boston and New England Cable News.

Not only are customers sending more video, they’re using the cloud-based platform for collaboration as well. One latakoo news client streamed 147,570 minutes on the latakoo platform in May 2020, an 8,000% increase over the same month the previous year.

Cloud collaboration is the way dispersed teams are continuing to be productive, since the appetite for news coverage has only grown since the pandemic began.

“(We’re) leveraging latakoo a whole lot in terms of getting material to and from home base,” said Brendan Falco, Senior Director of Operations for Spectrum Networks, on the collection of software tools or hardware ‘kits’ his team is using. “I think we’re in a groove on how those kits are set up and we’ve been happy with the result.”

latakoo’s Kurian thinks that the pandemic has not only brought lasting change to the way news crews work, but to the technology they use. “What I keep hearing from our customers and potential customers is the need for a solution that’s sophisticated enough to integrate with  other platforms and technologies they’re using, along with the simplicity in user interface, so you don’t need to be an engineer to use it effectively.”

Cloud with a silver lining

“I don’t know if you’re aware of what happened here,” said our client. “But we had to send our editors home – all of them – nearly 200.”

It wasn’t a choice. The state’s governor  ordered all non-essential workers to seclude themselves to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. And while these workers qualified as essential, they got sent home anyway because one sick employee could infect enough others to knock a critically important newscast off the air.

“Here’s the thing,” our client continued. “We’ve learned that the work can get done from home. These people are not coming back. We’re already converting edit bays for use as offices and other things.”

After years of tolerating, but not openly embracing the full potential of cloud technology, the pandemic forced broadcasters to rip off the Band-Aid and in-an-instant fully adopt the cloud as a primary tool for the construction of their newscasts.

Before the pandemic, our cloud based platform  was primarily used to quickly move content from the field through the Internet to a broadcast centre. It was an acquisition tool. But once people began working at home, that video had to go the other direction; from the broadcast centre to people’s dens and home offices.  The video also had to be accessible to watch in the cloud.

While content transfer has always been bi-directional and the video has always been watchable within the platform, what changed was where people were working. Confirmation for the anecdote our client verbally shared with us leapt off the page when we looked at their usage data. This customer’s team uploaded 1,800% more video in May 2020 than in May 2019 in their headquarters city.  The staffers watched 8,000% more video on the platform. They streamed nearly 150,000 video minutes in just one month. Welcome to the cloud.

The thing about the pandemic is that it hastened a change that was already occurring, and like those soon-to-be-converted edit bays, broadcasting itself will change forever going forward.  This opens up tremendous opportunities for broadcasters, production companies and the vendors that support this community to fully explore and develop the potential of massive amounts of scalable compute, endless inexpensive storage, integrations and interoperability.

No longer is an editor confined to a small room physically attached to a limited set of locked down on-premise tools. Now, that editor can connect to the most innovative services in the world. Some built by niche specialists who may literally do one thing better than anyone else.  The content creator gets access to that specialized tool if it is connected to her organization’s cloud platform.

And that is the real key. We vendors must create systems that make integrations and interoperability easy and seamless in order for our shared customers to reach the full potential of the cloud. That is easy to say but is a huge step for the industry. It may even be a bigger step than the one the broadcasters took when they sent their editors home.

The video vendor industry has a long history of building proprietary products that attempt to lock-in a customer base to a specific brand. This lock-in practice has not disappeared as vendors have taken to the cloud. The competitive instinct of some storied brands is to attempt to build a single siloed cloud platform that does everything their customer needs.  The problem with this model is that even if it temporarily satisfies a customer, the silo is almost instantly out-of-date and will lag behind new solutions built by the rest of the world.

The true promise of the cloud lies in being able to easily access different cutting-edge technologies from your chosen platform, and that is available to your team if the vendors you choose make it easy to connect their system to services created by other companies.

Our core foundational belief is to be a bridge between the technologies that our customers use.  A perfect example of this philosophy is the provision of a service on our platform that tracks the metadata associated with video stories from birth to broadcast by seamlessly integrating with the newsroom computer systems that our customers use.

It is possible that the legacy of this pandemic will not all be bleak as it forced broadcasters and vendors to work together to unlock the full potential of a cloud that is still connected to traditional broadcast facilities and to the video editor creating something beautiful from her home office.