Monday, May 29

The Coming Future: Journalism Without Journalists

What will be the fate of many journalists in a few years to come? The future is frightening. This is because most of them are going to lose their jobs to machines writes Timothy Alexander Guzman.

The Main-Stream Media (MSM) or corporate media has recently  began making moves to replace humans with robots or “automated  journalism” to produce its news stories. Not to say that the corporate  media journalists who currently work under the propaganda machine are  independent and are committed to the truth. However, more than ever,  corporate media conglomerates are slowly replacing those same  traditional journalists with robots that can produce twice the amount of  stories at a faster rate to beat out their competition is just one of  the reasons for the change.  But there is a bigger picture to this new  advanced technology.

Robots as we know, have replaced humans in several industries  especially in the automobile industry where robots are already replacing  humans on production lines. The media is no exception. Recently the New York Post reported that Bilderberg attendee and  Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait told Bloomberg’s 2,400  journalists in an internal office memo that he was creating a 10-person  team that will study how to “use more automation in writing and reporting.” Micklethwait reportedly said:

“Why do we need you, if the basic  idea is to get computers to do more of the work?” Micklethwait asked in  the memo, obviously addressing an unspoken concern among his staff.

One irony of automation is that it is  only as good as humans make it. That applies to both the main types of  automated journalism. In the first, the computer will generate the story  or headline by itself. But it needs humans to tell it what to look for,  where to look for it and to guarantee its independence and transparency  to our readers. In the second sort, the computer spots a trend,  delivers a portion of a story to you and in essence asks the question:  Do you want to add or subtract something to this and then publish it?  And it will only count as Bloomberg journalism if you sign off on it.

“Done properly, automated journalism has the potential to make all our jobs more interesting,” he said

New York Magazine published an article in 2014 titled ‘Robots Are Invading the News Business, and It’s Great for Journalists’ interviewed an independent analyst by the name of Ken Doctor:

Ken Doctor, an independent analyst who studies the  news industry, told me this week that the rise of robot reporting is a  product of the times — both technologically and in terms of the troubled  economics of the news industry, which has led media organizations to  search for ways to reduce their costs. “The robots are just another tool  of new journalism,” he said. In the future, Doctor predicts, robots  won’t just be reporters’ competitors. They’ll collaborate with us by  preparing data-dense paragraphs that we can then supplement with our own  analysis, producing a hybrid story that’s better than our human efforts  alone.
“Journalism is becoming a more highly skilled job,” Doctor said.  “Simply showing up, in the Woody Allen sense — being able to read a  press release or interview a single person, and write up a story that is  understandable in 750 words — that’s not going to be enough. The  optimistic part of this is that we’d use computers to do the basic work  of organizing facts, and that the judgment and analysis, the  interpretation, the experience is brought to it by humans”

In 2014, the Associated Press partnered with Automated Insights (AI) to produce automated quarterly earnings reports by using AI’s Wordsmith platform. According to AI’s website:

The Associated Press, working with Automated Insights  and Zacks Investment Research, uses automation technology to write  earnings stories. Previously, AP’s reporters wrote such stories. AP now  produces nearly 3,700 quartlery earnings stories for US and Canadian  companies, over 12 times the number that AP reporters and editors  produced manually

Robots taking the place of humans in the newsroom are just another way of eliminating journalists to cut labor costs. Just like McDonalds is  eliminating their workforce and replacing them with robots to serve  customers due to the $15 an hour increase in the minimum wage across the  U.S. Although Ken Doctor said that the way robots (providing and  organizing basic facts) would collaborate with humans who would then  provide the experience and the final analysis to produce a “hybrid story” is  nonsense, it’s about reducing costs for corporate news owners and  executives. Another important factor to consider is that humans and  robots collaborating to produce news are easily controlled by top  management. According to a 2014 article from Politico by Charles Lewis, a former 60 Minutes “investigative” producer and founder and former Executive Director for the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) wrote a story titled ‘Why I Left 60 Minutes’ and said:

Fewer commercial news organizations support  investigative journalism now than at any time in recent history, and  reporters today—especially those who aggressively seek the truths that  government, business and other powerful institutions seek to conceal—are  arguably more alone, more exposed and more vulnerable to professional  and even physical harm than they ever were. There has to be a better way

Charles Lewis left the CPI in 2005 which has been hijacked by the CIA-connected Ford Foundation, George Soros’s‘Open Society Foundation’ and  other corporate foundations who are major contributors for the  nonprofit organization. The corporate media will be a competitive market  for journalists especially if they are competing against robots that do  not require a salary, a retirement plan or healthcare benefits. It is  not a hard choice for those who manage or own corporate media especially  when it comes to their profits and political agendas.

The original source of this article is Silent Crow published as;  “Automated Journalism”, Robots in the Newsroom: The Future of Corporate Media.
Copyright © Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow, 2018 

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