Journalism is a very mighty industry, if not the mightiest (in my opinion). That is one of the many reasons I have chosen to study journalism. Journalism has many times been deemed to be on the brink of extinction – seen as a career with a bleak future. But each time it has pulled through to prove to be an ever-growing and ever-changing industry that always adapts to whatever circumstances. Journalism has survived the tabloid, the gossip columnists, media moguls and the internet, but it now faces a new adversary – automated reporting (also known as ROBOT JOURNALISM).
The Rise of The Machines
This robotic evolution of journalism has already begun. You’ve probably already read a news story written by a sophisticated computer algorithm and never even knew it. Advanced software programs take financial reports and the latest sports scores and then transform the data into sentences that humans can understand. The finished product won’t win any CNN African Journalist of the Year Award, but it does a decent job of telling the basic story. The up side for news organizations is that more stories produced at a rapid rate with fewer people to pay. This mays sound like it’s all doom, gloom and ka-boom for journalists out there, but it really is not. Every story needs facts, quotes and a personal angle, and such cannot be provided by artificial intelligence. Automated content is typically used to expand coverage, not replace existing coverage. Which is why I believe journalism will survive yet again.
The human element in a story, whatever story it may be, will always be needed and vital. You can’t give a soccer fan stats and not bring up the joyous emotion felt at the stadium after that last-minute goal, not to mention the heated post-match clashes between the coach and the journalists. How will an automated reporter explain that “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” to the general public after reporting an impending financial crisis? Human journalism will never die, it will just multiply.
Businesses like Automated Insights quickly saw the potential in the market. Their software Wordsmith has been used in the newsrooms of the Associated Press (AP) since july 2014 to produce corporate earning reports. The AP has praised it to be highly successful as it has cut their working time by 25% and the journalists are now focusing on the true essence of their journalistic duties and the best part about this is that no loss of jobs occured. The only thing that causes journalists to lose jobs is that journalism industry is changing and journalists who don’t adapt suffer a rapid career death (deservedly so).
There is a super bright light at the end of this tunnel, because I see journalists working hand in hand with automated reporters in the future. It is clear as day that each one needs one!
‘Till Next Time Peeps, BHA-BHAYINI!