Last week, the Australian edition of The Guardian posted an article with no byline. The data-driven report was the first of its kind for the publication for one intriguing reason: It was written by a robot.
The article stated at the end:
"This story was generated by ReporterMate, an experimental automated news reporting system."
Robot reporters are becoming more and more ubiquitous in another instance of technology transforming the landscape of journalism.
The reports—like the one in The Guardian, which reported on donations to political parties—are data-driven. They can analyze large amounts of numbers and information, distilling these with greater ease and accuracy than a human reporter. Considering the interference of Russian "bots" in the 2016 election, it's understandable that robot reports carry a negative connotation to some, but news executives insist that the development isn't a negative one and that distinctly human skills are now being put to greater use.
Lisa Gibbs, the director of news partnerships for the Associated Press, told the New York Times:
“The work of journalism is creative, it’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy.”
In what may come as a surprise, a growing number of journalists and media workers are getting on board.
But as journalistic institutions resort to massive layoffs at an alarming rate, some think the technology could pose a threat in a news cycle that's moving faster than ever before.
People still remain wary of the technology.
Though it's certainly growing, automated reporting has been in use for nearly a decade and is quickly becoming more of an asset than a threat to the news industry.
Journalists' jobs seem to be safe for now.