As if journalists needed anything more to worry about, robots look poised to begin a gradual takeover of basic newswriting tasks.
The discussion surrounding robot, or automated, journalism has fired up this summer, following The Associated Press’ (AP) announcement that the majority of U.S. corporate earnings stories will go automated, thought-provoking pieces by Nieman Lab and the Guardian, and discussions at the Global Editors Network regarding automated journalism launching in Europe as early as next year.
The concept of automated journalism first gained widespread attention this March, after an earthquake provided an early wake-up call to the residents of Beverly Hills, California at 6:25 a.m. The Los Angeles Times had a story about the quake on their website up as quickly as three minutes later, according to Ken Schwenke, the reporter who’s byline accompanied the story.
How? The brief had been written by Quakebot, a program that extracts information from the U.S. Geological Survey, plugs it into a pre-configured template, and then pushes it onto the Times‘ content management system, where it waits for Schwenke to publish it.