Find the latest episode of "The Uncertain Hour" here. Listen
Codebreaker

Computers as reporters

Adriene Hill Apr 27, 2012

Sure, we’ve heard a lot about robots and computers taking our jobs recently. But now they’re after MY job. Wired has a human-penned article about a company in Chicago that has programmed computers to write news stories. Data in equals a few hundred words out. And we’re not talking some gibberishy news like you get from online translation sites; no-sir these news stories are readable. They make sense. At least some big publishers think so. “The articles run on the websites of respected publishers like Forbes, as well as other Internet media powers (many of which are keeping their identities private). Niche news services hire Narrative Science to write updates for their subscribers, be they sports fans, small-cap investors, or fast-food franchise owners.”

This has been happening for a while. MediaBistro reports Forbes signed on in February. The Big Ten Network uses it. So do a couple dozen other outlets. Don’t like the idea? Might be time to get over it. “Last year at a small conference of journalists and technologists, I asked Hammond [the company’s cofounder] to predict what percentage of news would be written by computers in 15 years. At first he tried to duck the question, but with some prodding he sighed and gave in: “More than 90 percent.”

 

News and information you need, from a source you trust.

In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.

This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.

Stand up for independent news—become a Marketplace Investor today with a donation in any amount.