The most recent wave of layoffs hitting the news industry offers a harsh reminder: digital media still hasn’t found a sustainable economic equilibrium. The future of local journalism looks particularly bleak, with some communities now considered “news deserts” as local papers disappear or are reduced to husks of their former selves. But amid these declines a new concept is being tested: data journalism, along with some cleverly applied automation, could be part of the antidote.
The RADAR (Reporters And Data And Robots) project was born out of a collaboration between the UK Press Association and a startup called Urbs Media, based in London. With a team of just five data reporters (and two editors) it produces an average of about 8,000 local stories per month across the UK. Its stories are run by various local media outlets that subscribe to a wire service it provides.
To produce its localized stories, RADAR leverages freely available open government datasets that are tabulated by geographic area (the granularity varies by dataset but is typically around 200 areas). Each reporter develops about two stories per week into data-driven templates which include fragments of text and logical if-then-else rules for how to translate the data into location specific text. The core structure of the stories might be somewhat similar across versions, but the details will be locally tailored. “Department for Transport data shows 18 people were killed and 162 people seriously injured on Shropshire’s roads in 2017,” reads the lede of one story adapted
Read more here: https://www.cjr.org/tow_center/diakopoulos-automation-local.php