The time has come when the reporter is being replaced by the machine and it couldn’t be better for the future of journalism. Robots have been making their way into the industry of journalism for a number of years and it is quite clear they are here to stay. Journalists please make way the machine is here and it can do just as good a job as you.
It sounds crazy right? A machine could never do the job of a journalist… Wrong! It can and it is. Surprisingly robots make great sports journalists. Using Artificial Intelligence Technology the Washington Post made use of software programs to write briefs on the Olympic Games in Rio in real time.
“The Olympics are the perfect way to prove the potential of this technology. In 2014, the sports staff spent countless hours manually publishing event results. Heliograf will free up Post reporters and editors to add analysis, color from the scene and real insight to stories in ways only they can.”
It is not that the computer is going to replace the age old tradition which is journalism, not at all. Journalism is actually leveraging on the power of new technologies to further itself as an industry. In the 21st century age of technology, the craft of journalism is asserting itself as relevant to the times and capable to adapt to its new surroundings
“Robot journalism” is less a CP3O-like character typing the news, and more automation of data collection using algorithms to produce text news for publication. The process is forcing journalists to address best practices for gathering data, incorporating news judgment in algorithms and communicating these new efforts to audiences.”
Many forms of literature (books, magazines, blogs, financial reports, sports reporting) follow simple algorithms which can easily be replicated. Better yet they can be created and published without the need for editing as the machine is an expert grammaticist as a result of language generation software built in.
One example of how the machine has automated journalism for the better is the instance of PR Newswire who uses automated reporting to produce thousands of articles about how well publicly traded corporations performed each quarter.
The handing over of the task solves three main problems which faced PR Newswire before the job became automated. The first solution to the automation of the reports was that before no one wanted to do the work. Compiling thousands of reports on publically traded companies is boring and tedious. Reporters would much rather go out and work on more interesting stories. Automation is perfect for the task because there are no complaints. The machine doesn’t get bored.
Secondly the job of writing a financial report is very repetitive and requires a lot of numbers. Human writers tend to make many mistakes with this kind of writing and retractions would have to be made. Two years ago robots took over this job at PR Newswire of writing the financial reports of publically traded companies and currently 100% of the stories are written on time. With no mistakes and no retractions. The machine has really proven itself here and it is actually doing journalists a favour. No more long hours crunching away at the calculator when there is a world of actually interesting stories out there, just let automation take over. Give the menial and time consuming jobs to the computer and the actual journalist will have more time for insights and review.
It is clear: automated journalism is great for creating up to the minute news about routine stories and repetitive topics. The algorithms it uses are great for generating news faster, with fewer errors and at a larger scale. Robot journalism is here to stay. Automation will most likely change the way journalists work but it is not about to do a take over anytime soon. More likely journalism is moving towards a future where there will more likely be a more “man-machine” integration.
“Looking into the crystal ball, robots will do more of our everyday tasks. And in many of these cases, the technology will make our journalism better.”
- Bernish C. 2016. Where does your info come from? Mainstream Media now literally using robots to write news. [Online] Available from: http://bit.ly/2cORi7Z Accessed on: 11/09/2016
- Tow Centre for Digital Journalism. 2016. Guide to Automated Journalism.[Online] Available at: http://bit.ly/1UzyHXL Accessed on: 11/09/2016
- Doll M. 2015. The AP Considers ethics of robot journalism with automated insights. [Online] Available from: http://bit.ly/2cgJBlN Accessed on 11/09/2016
- DeVigal A. 2016. Robot Journalism: Algorithms are More of a Tool than a Threat. [Online] Available from: http://bit.ly/2b1euLG. Accessed on: 11/09/2016
- KnowledgeAtWharton. (2014). Will Robot Journalists Replace Human Ones?. [Online Video]. 4 April 2014. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HW3phnL172E. [Accessed: 11 September 2016].