An in­creas­ing num­ber of news or­gan­i­sa­tions us­ing “bots” to write their ar­ti­cles

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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