Bot to feature top news stories, election alerts, and Olympic coverage

The Washington Post today released a bot for the Messenger platform that will feature top news stories, election alerts and Olympic coverage offering readers a new, on-demand way to access The Post. Users can find The Post’s bot here, by messaging The Post through the company’s Facebook page or in the Messenger app search box. The user can then engage with the bot by sending a simple “hi” message, and the bot will respond with command options.

“With millions of people communicating on Messenger, we wanted to see how we can engage them with reading news in this experience,” said Joey Marburger, director of product at The Washington Post. “We wanted to first build a bot that was simple and useful, and we’ll continue to add features as we learn how people are interacting with us.”

At launch, the bot will feature the day’s top news stories. Users can swipe to see five news items and go beyond the headlines by opting to read more stories similar to the one on the screen. When prompted, the bot can also populate the latest stories on a specific topic when asked a general news question.

Gearing up for the general election, users will also be able to share their zip code to get election results based on their location. These election alerts will provide results for general election and local races based on Associated Press polling data.

The Post will later integrate Olympics coverage when the Summer Games kick off. The bot will be able to provide the television schedule, medal counts, alerts on when events are happening and more.

Marburger added, “We also plan to add tools such as personalization. As users increasingly engage with the bot, we can tailor stories based on reading history or topics they specifically inquire about.”

The Post will release an SMS-based version of the bot in the early fall.