An increasing number of news organisations using “bots” to write their articles
Throughout the US Presidential election campaign, many news organisations have used algorithmic systems to create text from data which is collected and automated “bots” to send these generated news updates to smartphones.
Although these systems have been invented for quite some time, their use escalated in the last year as media resources were very stretched and technology advances made them more efficient to use. Some of the organisations which made use of these technologies were The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NBC, Yahoo News and nonprofit organisations like Pro Publica.
The New York Times product director, Andrew Phelps described these systems as a follow up to conversation journalism
where users can sign up and receive messages from time to time, including short phrases from distinctive journalists. These systems have been described as very successful with the younger generation as the experience becomes more personal and allows readers to engage themselves with the journalists.
Different news agencies have developed their own systems of automating news items, which although are different from each other they still use the same principles. The content, which is generated, has been described as readable as much as that which is written by journalists. For this reason, these systems are proving to be very economical as they reduce the resources required.
While journalists cannot be replaced in newsrooms, these systems can help to alleviate parts of their job, thus allowing them to focus on other things such as investigative journalism. Such an example are Apple’s stories regarding their quarterly earnings. These reports need to be published for business purposes. However, it would be too stressful for journalists to write them as they need to be accurate, but at the same time published at the earliest. For this reason, news agencies have partnered with external companies in order to automate this process.
Although there was skepticism about this idea, it took only some time before the article started being generated automatically and without any human intervention. Not only did journalists keep their jobs, but the news agencies increased the number of articles they published.