I’m not talking about C3PO with a notepad – but rather the ability computers have to analyse data and write reports automatically.
Narrative Science is a company that runs software which recieves date, analyses it and writes a piece of news copy – all without a human hand in sight.
So far the software has been used to successfully report on sports games which, due to financial constraints, couldn’t normally be reported on. But the possibilities of this new form of reporting are enormous.
This technology could potentially be applied to any piece of reporting that requires analysis of data. And with the amount of data around us piling up at a ridiculous rate, there is definitely a need for something to help make sense of it all.
Of course, I seriously doubt that a computer would be able to dig out the finer details that a trained reporting human eye would uncover. But equally as unlikely is the ability for humans to find details and patterns in data which a computer easily can.
The example given by one of the partners of Narrative Science is proof enough: “One machine-generated game story suggested that the pitcher’s excellent performance during that game indicated that he might be coming out of a slump.”
So – with governments around the world opening up their data, alongside a growing need to monitor the actions of bankers and a web that keeps the world constantly producing data, this new method of reporting could really catch on.
And how will this effect journalism? I doubt it will lead to news companies sacking their staff and hiring companies like Narrative Science.
I don’t believe that automating news reporting will diminish the role of human reporters – rather it will help reporters get closer to the story hidden within the data. And save a lot of time.