That’s it. Game over, man. We’re redundant. The robots are taking over. Google is awarding €706,000 to the Press Association to fund robot reporters to write 30,000 stories a month. These AI writers – part of Digital News Initiative (DNI) – will provide content for local newspapers across the UK and Ireland. Additionally, news start-up Urbs Media will handle content generation as the Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR), supported by a number of human journalists.
To accelerate both the demise of local new reporting and the creeping obsolescence of humanity, RADAR will pump out a plethora of daily stories for local news outlets. Though, Luddite hyperbole aside, RADAR will take on much of the heavy lifting behind data-based content creation. Theoretically, RADAR’s work could free up human journalists to report on more human interest stories. Data for data, people for people. Makes sense.
RADAR will create data-based content for local news outlets. In addition, it will support bloggers and indie publishers. The system gathers data from local government departments. The Press Association says:
“RADAR is intended to meet the increasing demand for consistent, fact-based insights into local communities, for the benefit of established regional media outlets, as well as the growing sector of independent publishers, hyperlocal outlets and bloggers.
RADAR will see journalists identifying national open databases from government departments, local authorities, NHS Trusts and more, and creating detailed story templates across a range of topics including crime, health and employment. Natural Language Generation (NLG) software will be applied to produce multiple versions of stories, to scale up the mass localisation of news content.”
Nevertheless, Tim Dawson, president of the National Union of Journalists, is cautious over the move. He thinks RADAR’s robot reporters will support – rather than usurp – existing human journalists. However, he warned against taking away from journalists to pay for algorithms. Dawson told The Guardian:
“Under-investment in journalism and journalists is a massive problem in the media across the UK.
The real problem in the media is too little bona fide reporting. I don’t believe that computer whizzbangery is going to replace that. What I’m worried about in my capacity as president of the NUJ is something that ends up with third-rate stories which look as if they are something exciting, but are computer-generated so they [news organisations] can get rid of even more reporters.”
Image courtesy of The Verge.
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