Consider a scene straight out of a 1980’s sci-fi movie: Somewhere in the future, Circa 2070, the news and media industry is run by robots. The owner sets the sales targets, and the machines tap out stories after stories to fill the pages of the newspaper. Well, the future is now.
As of today, robots are writing a major chunk of finance and sports news. These robots, better known as bots’ are not humanoids sitting in dingy office halls, but software programmed by journalist companies. Automated Insights and Narrative Science are the primary vendors of automation for journalism company.
It is imminent that any hint of automation will bring an onslaught of furious resistance from certain sections of journalist community, as it happened in the case of industrial automation too – when workers reacted unfavorably to the control systems mechanisms like conveyor belt robots and other advanced robots overseeing the production line in any factory.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of automation for journalism company. But before that, let’s understand how the bots’ work.
As mentioned above, �bots’ are computer programs, which follow set algorithms to provide outcomes calculated through the input data. In the case of journalism bots, the raw data (statistics and numbers) is fed to the software and the bots generate articles based on the data. This works in two ways:
Informational, statistics-heavy articles
These are simple finance or sports boats, where the journalist sets a template for a market forecast or a sports match narration, and the bot just fills in the blanks left for statistics to be entered. These articles are pretty drab and can be discerned as written by bots’ by experienced readers.
Natural language articles based on the analysis of the raw data
These are complex bots, which analyze the data provided to them and come up with unique articles that look as if they are written by a human being. Of course, ethically, there should be a line at the top/bottom, indicating that the article is written by a bot.
Coming back to the pros and cons – Should a journalist be wary of the automation or consider the bot his friend? Neither. Journalists should consider bots as dumb allies’; meaning they can do the menial job of writing an article that is produced by the investigative hard work of the journalist, while he/she can spend the time researching further or on another topic.
- A bot can produce as many as 2000 articles per second. The number of articles is an indicator (if not entirely accurate) that automation can considerably speed up news generation. A rate that cannot possibly reach by humans, even if they use the same template and data sheet.
- As mentioned earlier, bots can give the journalist spare time to spend on other productive work such as investigations and research, which often take a backseat when the journalist has to meet going live’ deadlines in the print and Internet news industry.
- In recruiting bots, the journalist company is not canceling the jobs of their present staff. Instead, it is making their jobs more interesting by giving them the opportunity to focus on the important aspects of news generation rather than writing report-like articles.
- Try as they might, technology has not advanced to a level where bots can give a completely human touch to the article. At present, automation in a journalist company is limited to finance and sports articles – where the same format can be repeated for different articles.
- The bots need to be trained, i.e, they need to be programmed such that their data scanning speed and accuracy increases with each run. At present, the evolution of bots has not reached a level where it can rectify or write its own algorithm (like Microsoft’s AI has just learned to do).
So if you are a journalist, sit back, relax, and let the bots take over your boring assignments. Try to teach them a few words that you use a lot, and have their natural language processing ability work for you. Automation for journalist company is no longer a distant possibility, but it has already begun, most of them do a comprehensive look at Convertkit cause they have a bigger change to Score a discount on CK. Join the club, and enjoy the privileges!