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Automating Journalism

When the new staff reporter is not human. 



Robots can do so many things, including write. Which is why major news outlets are turning to smart automated content in which stories are generated and published online without human intervention.

The Associated Press is already using an automated system to publish earnings reports, and now Bloomberg is preparing to use automation to cover “commodity news,” thereby allowing journalists to focus on the more important stories.

According to Poynter, Bloomberg's Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait recently announced that the news organization is creating a 10-person team to determine how automation can be used as part of the company's editorial initiatives.

Of course, the big question is—as it always is when it comes to robots—will it take jobs away from humans?

As Micklethwait noted in a letter to the organization: “One irony of automation is that it is only as good as humans make it. That applies to both the main types of automated journalism. In the first, the computer will generate the story or headline by itself. But it needs humans to tell it what to look for, where to look for it and to guarantee its independence and transparency to our readers. In the second sort, the computer spots a trend, delivers a portion of a story to you and in essence asks the question: Do you want to add or subtract something to this and then publish it? And it will only count as Bloomberg journalism if you sign off on it…Done properly, automated journalism has the potential to make all our jobs more interesting…The time spent laboriously trying to chase down facts can be spent trying to explain them. We can impose order, transparency and rigor in a field which is something of a wild west at the moment.”

Editor's note: Steph, did you really write this one?


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