Will Robots Replace Journalists?

Had Narrative Science — a company that trains computers to write news stories—created this piece, it probably would not mention that the company’s Chicago headquarters lie only a long baseball toss from the Tribune newspaper building. Nor would it dwell on the fact that this potentially job-killing technology was incubated in part at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. Those ironies are obvious to a human. But not to a computer.


Will Robots replace Journalists in the Newsroom? Illustration: Mark Allen Miller

Will Robots replace Journalists in the Newsroom? Illustration: Mark Allen Miller

At least not yet.


For now consider this: Every 30 seconds or so, the algorithmic bull pen of Narrative Science, a 30-person company occupying a large room on the fringes of the Chicago Loop, extrudes a story whose very byline is a question of philosophical inquiry. The computer-written product could be a pennant-waving second-half update of a Big Ten basketball contest, a sober preview of a corporate earnings statement, or a blithe summary of the presidential horse race drawn from Twitter posts. The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private). Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.


And the articles don’t read like robots wrote them:

Read More – Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story Than a Human Reporter?

Seems Quakebot and other Robots are already writing our news

When an earthquake hit Los Angeles earlier this week, the LA Times had an article published online within 3 minutes. And Slate.com reports it’s all because a robot called Quakebot wrote it.


“This seems to me to be a very interesting development and may actually make the role of journalists a little bit easier,” said Randall Davidson, Director of Radio Services at UW-Oshkosh.


So-called robot journalism is another example of reporters taking advantage of the latest technology.


“There’s always been an adoption by reporters of anything that makes the job easier and anything that makes the reporting better.”


A human still had to approve the earthquake story before it went online, but the robot did what it was supposed to: it got the story up right away.


But that wasn’t the end of it. Real reporters added details to later versions of the story.


“There’s more to it than just that story. They didn’t leave it with just the story generated by the bot.  It was a starting point,” explained Davidson.

Read More: Could robots someday replace journalists?

It’s All Over: Robots Are Now Writing News Stories, And Doing A Good Job

The algorithms used by Schwencke and his team are capable of generating news stories on earthquake alerts as well as homicides in the area, and it is then the job of the paper’s staff to determine which stories should be developed further. For this reason, Schwencke disagrees with speculation that robo-journalism could replace human writers.

“The way we use it, it’s supplemental,” he said. “It saves people a lot of time, and for certain types of stories, it gets the information out there in usually about as good a way as anybody else would. The way I see it is, it doesn’t eliminate anybody’s job as much as it makes everybody’s job more interesting.”

Via –Huffington Post

My understanding is these robo-journalists will spell correctly and use proper grammar… what would all of our grammar police do?


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