Digital Innovation Digital Publishing Top Stories
3 mins read

Automated journalism and the future of news media: INMA report

With less fear these days that robots are going to take their jobs — and a greater eagerness to welcome their assistive capabilities — newsrooms are learning to embrace automated tools. With that acceptance comes the reassurance and understanding that, no matter how capable automated software becomes, it can’t replace the skills of a good journalist or editor.

How automation can accelerate and improve reporting and reshape media business models is the focus of a new report released by the International News Media Association (INMA).

How Automated Journalism Is Shaping the Future of News Media” focuses on:

  • Understanding automated journalism and why it matters
  • Making the case for automated news
  • Using robots for revenue
  • Six ways to get started

Written by INMA Ideas Blog Editor Paula Felps, the INMA report asserts that newsrooms are learning to embrace automation, as fears that robots will take journalists’ jobs starts to wane.

Automation is now being seen as more of a tool and a companion to a writer’s work, not a competitor.

This merging of human understanding and Artificial Intelligence makes for a socio-technical environment that relies upon the strengths of both. Automated tools are only as good as the data they are provided, and they require human oversight to check the output, update databases, and make sure the knowledge bases being tapped into are up to date.

Paula Felps, INMA report

With more news media companies interested in using automation, Felps argues that question now becomes how to get started. In the report, she outlines the steps recommended by Cynthia DuBose, vice president of audience growth and content monetisation at McClatchy in the United States.

“How Automated Journalism Is Shaping the Future of News Media” investigates how recent years have brought forth excellent examples of how automation can accelerate and improve reporting with two big takeaways:

  • Automation is good for the bottom line: Of course, the question of revenue must be raised, and robots are doing their part to not just cut costs, but to bring in money. More media companies are using automation to drive revenue, whether that is through creating new products that attract subscribers or being able to sell more targeted advertising as a result of that content.
  • Automated journalism frees up time for — but does not replace — old- school journalists: Whether it’s producing articles around data-driven stories or designing the page, news media companies are automating what can be automated so humans can have more time to create what robots can not.

Automation allows newsrooms to leverage data on topics like real estate, finance, and sports to generate more coverage and deliver sections that are popular with readers but would be too labour-intensive for a human reporter to create. They also can gather data for journalists working on investigative pieces and save hours of time tracking down statistics.

In short, everyone can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that while robots are transforming the newsroom, they’re not here to replace the humans.

Paula Felps, INMA report

Among the report’s case studies are the United Kingdom’s Reporters And Data and Robots (RADAR), NTM in Sweden, and Norway’s Bergens Tidende, Stavanger Aftenblad, and FVN.

What the news industry can expect is that automated journalism will continue to shape media companies, the journalism they produce, and how that affects their business model. This new INMA report dives into why it matters, what it looks like, and how news media teams can get started.

“How Automated Journalism Is Shaping the Future of News Media” is available here.