media update’s Jenna Cook looks into the effect a collaboration between journalists and robot news writers will have on the media industry.

AI journalism is having a tremendous impact on the media industry already. And as it becomes a more common occurrence in newsrooms around the world, it leaves much to question in terms of how news will be generated in the future.

What do journalists have to gain from robot writers?

Robot writers have the ability to craft stories that can be understood with figures – financial reports, sport fixtures, etc. These outlined stories are generated instantly and with few errors. However, these high volumes of data insights are simply that – data. This is where journalists come in.

A powerful combination of human and robot writing will create new possibilities for the media industry. “The future of automated storytelling is the seamless blend of human reporting and machine-generated content,” says Dr Sam Han, director of data science at The Washington Post.

The Washington Post already uses Heliograf, a content management system that involves both human and AI skills. Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Washington Post says, “This dual-touch capability allows The Post to create stories that are better than any automated system, but more constantly updated than any human-written story could be.”

This collaboration is said to create content that is more personalised than it has ever been before. Meaning, journalists will be able to focus on producing high-value work without using time to search for insights.

How will the media industry be influenced as AI journalism evolves?

With AI set to become even smarter, man-to-machine communication will be made simpler. Insights based on the media habits of readers will be easily generated. This will make adapting articles to specific individuals a common practice in the newsroom.

Catering to the needs of individual readers means being able to reach a wider audience.
Readers who are new to a topic may need more information to understand it, while an expert may only want the in-depth details.

This customised knowledge can be accessed almost instantly through the use of robot-writing tools, such as Articoolo. The algorithm creates unique content from scratch, imitating a human journalist. And Articoolo is not the only one.

Wordsmith is a robot writer that has been available to the public since 2015. "[It focuses] on personalised content," says Automated Insights CEO, Robbie Allen. "Instead of writing one story, and hoping a million people read it, Wordsmith can create a million stories targeted at each individual user and their preferences. It’s a story that is totally unique to each user because it is powered by their data."

Are advances in technology impacting journalism already?

Today, AI technology, in the form of machine learning algorithms, is able to assist journalists and media companies alike. “Media outlets using AI [say that it] is meant to enable journalists to do more high-value work,” says Lucia Moses, senior editor at Digiday.

The technology is able to automate routine work, conduct data research and analysis and generate a ‘newsworthiness rating’ on content. Even more than this, there are tools such as the Reuters News Tracer that can extract insights straight from streams of social media.

Using these tools, journalists will be more equipped to report on stories. This is made possible through the detection of newsworthy events and verification of real news by AI algorithms.

Executive editor of data and innovation at Reuters, Reginald Chua, says, “The world has a lot more witnesses now, and we can’t report on everything. Our tool – Reuters News Tracer– helps shift some of the burden of witnessing and lets journalists do much more of the high value-added work.”

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The connection between technology and journalism is only getting stronger. Read more about the ethics involved in our article, How new technologies are changing ethics in journalism.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy