Guardian Australia has published its first news story written by an automated system called ReporterMate. The AI-based program works with a dataset, from which it extracts facts and substitutes it for the existing story template, creating a simple text without much human intervention.
According to ReporterMate’s developer and Guardian Australia’s data editor Nick Evershed, the program was created for writing news that does not require in-depth study of the issue — weather forecasts, stock price reports and other information, allowing journalists to write on more complex and interesting topics.
“These types of stories also often require some mathematical analysis, which can tie up other resources in the newsroom. Journalists would prefer to be spending time on deeper, more meaningful investigations, such as why the climate is changing, and how does it affect people? Or which politicians are abusing the expenses system?” he said.
This isn’t an original idea — a great example is the LA Times’ Quakebot — and other companies have been doing it for several years now. But these are either proprietary commercial services or built for specific types of data. Two of the more prominent companies in this area are Narrative Science and Automated Insights.