The Associated Press has announced it will begin using automation technology to write business news reports, a development which likely foreshadows a future mainstream media dominated by computer “reporters.”
The AP recently said that data provided by Zachs Investment Research will be funneled into software developed by Automated Insights which will then automate short stories for the AP in roughly the same amount of time it would take its human reporters to write.
“…Instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter,” said Lou Ferrara, an AP managing editor.
The wire news service also claimed the automation will not eliminate jobs.
“This is about using technology to free journalists to do more journalism and less data processing, not about eliminating jobs,” Ferrara continued. “In fact, most of the staff has been receptive to the effort and involved for the past few months of discussion.”
But a computer science professor has predicted that by 2030, 90% of all mainstream news stories will be written by automation technology.
“This is possible because some kinds of reporting are formulaic,” wrote Jason Dorrier with the Singularity Hub. “You take a publicly available source, crunch it down to the highlights, and translate it for readers using a few boiler plate connectors.”
Considering that mainstream reporters are already formulaically regurgitating government talking points without question, it should come as no surprise that establishment outlets want to make the final – and practically simple – push towards using real robots for “reporting.”
And this move really began with the death of investigative journalism in mainstream media, which had allowed individual reporters to hold government accountable to the public.
“Fewer commercial news organizations support investigative journalism now than at any time in recent history, and reporters today – especially those who aggressively seek the truths that government, business and other powerful institutions seek to conceal – are arguably more alone, more exposed and more vulnerable to professional and even physical harm than they ever were,” said Charles Lewis, a former 60 Minutes producer and the founder of the Center for Public Integrity.
Fortunately, many of these reporters are moving into the alternative media, which is now exploding in popularity.
“At my heart, I feel like I’m an investigative reporter and that’s what I can bring to the table and contribute, and quite frankly in the last couple of years there just wasn’t the appetite for that kind of reporting,” former mainstream correspondent Sharyl Attkisson said after leaving CBS for the alternative media. “What I’m seeking out now, which is sort of in flux, is the opportunity to bring underserved stories to a broad audience and to an editorial process that doesn’t censor or try to direct a story to go in a certain, unnatural direction but lets the story be told in a way that is naturally occurring.”
So even though the mainstream media is transitioning into an era of automated government propaganda, real, human reporting will nevertheless thrive in the alternative, new media.