Saturday, March 22, 2014

I, Reporter

I for one welcome our new press room overlords:
The idea of having computers do the rote work that used to be assigned to cub reporters certainly has its allure.

"The mundane task of trawling through wire copy to spot a newsworthy item could be seen as a waste of resources, especially if all that's required is straight reportage of facts and figures," write the Guardian's Aisha Gani and Leila Haddou. "Surely we should just let computers do the work, while humans get on with more investigative and analytical pieces?"

Of course the journalists who are writing investigative and analytical pieces probably cut their chops working on the kind of rote articles that GUARBOT and Quakebot are now tackling. You don't just step out of college as the next Seymour Hersh.

And don't think it's just reporters whose livelihood is in danger, either. It's only a matter of time before their editors will feel the machine's icy gaze, as well.

"At a panel on automated storytelling at Columbia Journalism School's Tow Center for Digital Journalism last month, Narrative Science co-founder Larry Birnbaum speculated on a system that could exercise editorial judgment," writes New Scientist's Aviva Rutkin. "The bot would decide which stories were worth writing, how the stories should be written and which readers to show them to."
Given the current state of journalism, most people probably wouldn't notice the difference...

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