There are few fields that artificial intelligence (AI) is not transforming. We referenced AI-enabled synthetic voices in a recent blog. With the rise of automated journalism (aka algorithmic journalism or robot journalism), the written word also faces changes due to AI technology.
What Automated Journalism Means
With automated journalism, AI software is able to digest data, analyze and organize it, and then produce stories for readers. Beyond including the relevant people, places, and points of interest in a story, AI can also match a predefined style and tone, approximating a human reporter.
This might sound a bit “science fiction,” but automated journalism is being used by some of the world’s most prestigious journalism outlets. The Washington Post utilizes a program called Heliograf, which received critical acclaim for its coverage of the 2016 U.S. presidential election and the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bloomberg News uses automated journalism to create roughly one-third of its content.
The Purpose Of Automated Journalism
Media aren’t replacing staff members with robots. Instead, they’re using AI programs to enhance their overall product. Automated journalism yields quick articles – sometimes in niche areas – that wouldn’t otherwise be worth the investment of human reporters.
“Right now, automated journalism is about producing volume,” Seth Lewis, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon focusing on the rise of AI in media, told Digiday.com. “It has widespread utility that goes beyond individual news consumers. (The target) can also be people interested in very specific things.”
Experts do not feel like AI jeopardizes human journalism. In fact, it frees up reporters to focus on larger-scale stories by taking away some of the tedium of the shorter, quick-hitting-style stories that news publications depend on in our modern age.
“The work of journalism is creative,” Lisa Gibbas, director of news partnership for the Associated Press, told Forbes.com. “It’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy.”
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