Lately, there’s been talk of an emerging phenomenon that gives a whole new meaning to the term computer-assisted reporting.
New technology being tested and used by huge names in journalism allows computer programs to parse complex data and statistics and compose the information into a readable news story.
In a recent American Journalism Review article, Samantha Goldberg reports on companies like Narrative Science and Automated Insights, two of the startups on the cutting edge in this debuting endeavor. Both companies use artificial intelligence to extract data and work it into a narrative after interpreting, analyzing and systematically translating quantitative content into something meaningful. Media companies like Forbes, the Huffington Post, Business Insider and Sports Illustrated have either backed the companies or are using their services to distribute content efficiently and with fewer staff members. Plus, it’s cheaper than paying living, breathing humans to write stories on topics that require time-consuming research, analysis and writing time. And, allegedly these pieces of software are so good that they are capable of structuring a news story while maintaining a decently conversational tone. Don’t know if I’d ever compare it to a human writer’s unique “style,” but Narrative Science and Automated Insights’ algorithms make it so that the news stories aren’t impossibly dry.