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AI-Powered Journalism: The Newsbots Are Coming

newsroom technologies

Could this blog have been written by a bot? In the not so distant future, it might be difficult to say one way or another. The onset of artificial intelligence media could mean AI takes over simple and repetitive reporting duties, allowing journalists and news giants to refine their focus onto more creative reporting.

News outlets have been programming algorithms into several software projects to introduce automated news writing into their newsrooms. But what is automated journalism and can an algorithm truly imitate the art form of journalism? Automated journalism is already helping create news articles and enhance storytelling. The Washington Post reported that its own AI bot produced 850 stories entirely autonomously, primarily reporting on sports and the outcomes of regional politics. Identified as Heliograf, the bot first debuted at the 2016 Summer Olympics automatically generating stories by interpreting numerical sports data and structuring it based on the narrative patterns it had learnt.

Natural Language Generated Content

AI can be put to good use generating weather forecasts, financial market summarizations, sporting result summaries, and other information that involves numerical information. Quantifying that information, AI can then turn it into natural language text that’s human readable.  BBC News Labs have deployed a product that follows multiple news sources, aggregates information and extracts text that can be used by reporters writing about those topics. Acting as an AI-enhanced meta search engine, relevant content can be recognized rapidly, and current news stories can be connected with previous content generated prior.

Enhancing journalistic processes

AI-assisted journalism is also helping newsrooms streamline workflows and reducing the time of getting news and content out in a timely manner. Reuters utilizes AI to monitor twitter feeds to discover breaking news before it becomes a headline, and The New York Times is leveraging an AI-based technology known as Editor that works in tandem with journalists, identifying key phrases, content suggestions and supporting material to improve the overall quality of news pieces. This deployment of AI is helping to significantly reduce the workload of reporters, enabling them to turn out better quality content, faster.

Armed for the Fake News War

Recent years have witnessed the rise of fake news, purposely written to deceive rather than inform. As a result, major news outlets and social media platform are using AI-powered systems to detect patterns that may indicate fake news. These instances are then flagged for human intervention to detect if facts and sources are genuine. These systems are also being utilized to expose those fake news sources, calling out this intentional fraudulent behavior. Most media organizations take contributions and comments from their reader however remarks can rapidly get out of hand with inappropriate or malicious submissions. Google’s Jigsaw group have deployed a tool that can categorize comments by levels of ‘malice’ where automated or human moderators can filter and remove comments that don’t meet respectable guidelines.

 

AI-authored journalism presents an opportunity for journalists to focus on more extensive, higher-quality content rather than simple repetitive pieces. While the concept of using AI to generate news may cause concern, the reality is we can’t remove the most important element from reporting – human emotion. Rather, AI is enabling journalists to do their jobs more effectively, helping outlets to report on areas they lack resources to handle, providing journalists with precious time to cover the stories that truly matter.

*This blog was not written by a robot*

 

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