Robots may not be invading newsrooms, but the Associated Press in the U.S. and 14 more media organizations across Europe are adopting automation. At AP, stories about quarterly earnings reports from about 3,700 companies and some sports coverage is now produced by an algorithm rather than a person.
According to Alexander Fanta, a Reuters Fellow at the University of Oxford, finance and sports are the most common fields covered by bots, with some coverage of election results, education, unemployment and real estate also automated. He found that the availability of data is a key barrier to expanding the scope of coverage and found that nearly all automated journalism is “dependent on official sources providing figures in an easily usable format.” Fanta also writes that news organizations are not always transparent with the audience about the use of automation in producing news coverage.
“Putting Europe’s Robots on the Map: Automated journalism in news agencies” found that forays into automation have resulted in the development of some new news products for the companies surveyed, but the significant start-up costs may hinder wider expansion of robot-journalism.