Taking The Journalists Out Of Journalism

from the replaced dept

Stories about different jobs being replaced by computers have been a favorite for journalists over the years -- now it's some of those journalists being replaced by computers. The Thomson Financial news service says that it will expand the use of computers to write automated stories, mainly on things like earnings reports, which it can churn out as quickly as 0.3 seconds. These sorts of stories are the stock and trade of financial newswires, with speed and accuracy the two most important elements, so there's no reason a computer shouldn't be used to quickly digest a company's earnings report, compare the results to the previous year's, then spit out a quick story -- which typically follows a rigid format, even when written by a human. And, of course, it's cheaper than employing a small army of human writers, but Thomson says speed is the only consideration here (though surely the cost savings don't hurt), and that the system will free up reporters for more thought-intensive tasks, which is how these types of project should be approached: using technology to automate menial tasks to allow human resources to be allocated to other tasks computers can't handle. Thomson says it's been working on different types of software to write different types of stories, making us wonder how long before they release their summer rerun program, freeing up their writers for a nice mid-year break.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    Beefcake, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:19am

    Prior Art

    I'm pretty certain Barbara Cartwright is just a humanized-brand like Mrs. Field or Mom's Friendly Robot Company) for romance-novel writing software. Stephen King lately too.

     

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      Beefcake, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:21am

      Re: Prior Art

      First slacker of the post! Send my cash reward to victims of the somewhat-recent exploding capacitor disaster.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:29am

    This is New?

    I though TechDirt writers were computers? My bad, computes have a sense of humor.

     

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    Beefcake, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:38am

    Speaking of prior art

    I hope the Patent Office doesn't issue one for this. The real prior art here is Mad Libs.

     

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    chris (profile), Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:38am

    foolish humans

    the comments are written by computers.

     

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    Lay Person, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 9:42am

    Don't databases do this already?

    Don't databases do this already?

    Databases already generate reports. No, they're not stories but neither is what's mentioned in the article.

     

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    Brian, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 11:25am

    Just like stats...

    Journalists don't need computers to take their jobs from them, they have Katie Couric.

    But seriously, earnings reports are hardly stories...they're more like stats summarized into words. I wouldn't really call the folks that write those journalists. And I'm guessing they're happy to not write them.

    Analyzing those reports is where it's at.

     

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    Objective Journalist, Aug 18th, 2006 @ 12:17pm

    It's a conspiracy

    This is a conspiracy by the Bush administration to stop journalists from reporting the real news. Computers might start reporting the positive news from Iraq or might put news that would help Republicans on the front page, rather than burying it 12 paragraphs deep in a page 10 story like true, objective journalists would. I mean, computers don't hate conservatives, so how can they write the news? Leave that to the professionals!

     

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    Andrew Strasser, Aug 19th, 2006 @ 2:45am

    Of course...

    How else could he make his money more easy... Good idea though. I'm sure it will be trendy.

     

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    martin g, Aug 19th, 2006 @ 11:11am

    robotic reports

    I think are lot are written by robots already aren't they ?

    How many times have you heard the phrase :

    " . . . ended the day in positive territory " ?

     

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