Introducing the Content Insights & Discovery Accelerator, the first AI tool for journalists and publishers from Microsoft News

Microsoft’s mission to ‘Empower every person and organization on the planet’ isn’t just a slogan that’s on the back of our badge: It’s something we live and breathe every day. From safeguarding elections, to protecting global biodiversity, to driving accessibility for the 1B+ people around the world with disabilities, we’re always seeking ways to move the world forward. Similarly, we believe that open access to high-quality, reliable news is critical for all of us, which is why we’re proud to work alongside more than 4,500 news publications to bring their storytelling, insight and commentary to more than 500 million readers in 28 languages across 140 countries.  

Modern challenges require modern solutions 

Our news partners tell us that a top concern is creating well-researched, contextualized reporting and commentary at a pace that matches the ever-accelerating news cycle, and that a key blocker is the time and inefficiency of manual research. For a working journalist, researching a story could involve mining decades of content across many kinds of media to extract historical context and insight that can be applied to today’s issues, or combing through a “data dump” for pressing, time-sensitive information. Exploring these data sets is painstakingly manual, time-consuming, dependent on resources and subject to human error or bias. The more data there is, the greater the need for a tool to find what is most relevant. 

That’s why we’re proud to unveil the Content Insights & Discovery Accelerator (“IDA” for short), an out-of-the-box, newsroom-ready solution which uses Azure AI to rapidly index vast quantities of data, such as documents, photos, emails, PDFs, audio and video. It then extracts key entities like people, places, things and dates, intelligently finds connections between them. Results are presented in easy-to-navigate visualizations. Because it’s powered by Microsoft Azure, IDA works in any modern web browser, like Windows 10’s built-in Microsoft Edge and our Microsoft Edge Insider builds, available for both Windows 10 and MacOS.

IDA is built to be useful for everyone, regardless of technical skill, and no code development is required to get started. Current features include:

  • “Drag & Drop” file uploads: Just like your favorite Office 365 applications, simply drag files into IDA.
  • Intuitive visualizations make discovery easy: Explore relationships among key topics, people and dates with more intuitive, clickable visuals.
  • Find exactly what you’re looking for: Explore results by document type or date range, or by entities such as people, places and things.
  • Includes the best of Bing: Hovering over or clicking entities pulls up relevant search data from Bing.
  • Simple collaboration with portfolios and comments. Make portfolios for specific projects and stories to share and discuss with colleagues.
  • Easy text extraction. Convert document scans to editable text with a single click.
  • Work with any file type, including video and audio. IDA includes technology from Azure Video Indexer, which automates transcription, translation and face detection.

Unlocking insight in 160+ years of The Atlantic’s archives 

Today, at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Orlando, we showcased our partnership with The Atlantic, and how they’re experimenting with IDA to rapidly unlock insight and discover hidden connections in their century-and-a-half archive of news, photography, poetry, stories, advertisements and magazine formats that have changed dramatically over decades. Watch the video to learn more: 

Learn more, explore a live demo and get started

The Content Insight & Discovery Accelerator is just the first innovative technology solution designed for journalists and publishers from Microsoft News Labs. Be sure to check back with this blog for updates, and future announcements of new tools that help deliver on Microsoft’s mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.  

Ben Rudolph

Ben Rudolph is Managing Director at Microsoft News Labs