Computational Journalism: One Small Step For Computers, One Giant Leap For Flesh And Blood Journalists

Today, Mashable ran an article titled Can Robots Run the News?, detailing a new program created at Northwestern (ironically, the university where my mother studied journalism) to automatically create complete sports articles — stats, quotes and all.

Of course, the article then delves deeper into what’s called computational journalism – the practice of using robots and algorithms to find, compile, headline and edit news articles. And, even though everyone from HuffPo to the Washington Post automates a certain part of their content, the conclusion was that real, live, flesh-and-blood writers and editors are still needed to contextualize all of that automatically-generated information.

So, like with most things in the wide world of the world wide web, this particular breakthrough proves to be one small step for the machines, one more giant argument in favor of maintaining  at least a small staff of humans to run them. Looks like Hal won’t be getting his very own byline after all – at least not all by himself.


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