Journalist outside sharing data and the beauty of digital art. Photo by:
Journalist outside sharing data and the beauty of digital art. Photo by:

Automated Journalism Delivering Text In a World that Demands Video

As a journalist, I find that the recent wave of removing jobs from people with experience in the journalism industry to save money with algorithms is unreasonable, unethical, and displays a backwards thinking mentality.

To explore my theory, I plan to show the different dimensions of being a journalist, and the capacity a human being has to do the different jobs, along with the current state of electronics and robotics in mass market today. If a company is investing in a limited ability in overall news gathering, it displays to me, a mismanagement of the resources in the company.

Let’s look at the definition of a journalist:

a person who writes for newspapers or magazines or prepares news to be broadcast on radio or television.

In a recent article by Forbes, Leif Walcutt points out that the recent release of journalists from Facebook was for the ‘Trending Topics’ section. Walcutt went on to show that the company plans to use algorithms to replace the employees.

When I reviewed the definition of what a journalist can be, the roles and skill sets go beyond current robotic technology. Walcutt did note that the jobs were writing-based positions. My theory is that why wouldn’t they maximize the position by an entity that can produced news in a multidimensional fashion.

The following is 10 reasons why computers and robotics in 2016 cannot replace men and women in the journalism industry.

  1. Computers cannot film breaking news. A drone can be used in 2016, but it would require a human operator.
  2. Robotics currently does not have a model or drone that can broadcast news on television. Shows have used drones as a gimmick, but I’ve never seen a computer rebuttal a thoughtful comment on television.
  3. Artificial intelligence lacks ethics most overall. Also, they tend to lack the ability to double and triple check sources. A human would have to rewrite the code to get the computers to check the work for one another, but in breaking news, it might take a phone call to a source, and using a preset conversation during a crisis is not my idea of a smart game plan.
  4. It would take a team of programmers to replace the team of journalists. The fewer the programmers or journalists; an issue is more likely to arise. A forward mindset would be to train the programmers as journalists, and the journalists as programmers.
  5. People in 2016 demand multimedia. Text-based stories with no graphics is known as the wall of death for media producers. People tend not to read as much online as in the past, but interactive and engaging videos can draw attention in like never before. To create engaging video, it takes voiceovers, actors, hosts, subjects and the ability to edit it all together in a professional manner.
  6. US News published an article covering that only 6% of the public trusts the media. With such a small amount of people trustworthy of the news, it is baffling that any company would now want to put that trust into a computer system over retraining and expressing the use of proper sourcing of information with college-educated employees.
  7. When companies invest in human capital, they build economic growth, properly train and cross-train employees, and create more opportunities for new products.
  8. Computers lack the ability to investigate and create new stories.
  9. Cameras installed in digital devices can grab aerial shots, and shots from computers, but they continue to need an operator in most cases.
  10. Computers and robotic technology lacks the ability to interview guests in an engaging manner.

Automated Journalism in the 21st Century Newsroom

In the AP video, they go over the pros and cons to using automated forms of journalism. They point out that if jobs are lost; that these are jobs that were unnecessary. My theory is that these people were being underutilized overall. With the demand behind video, it displays an unfocused mode of production when creating news in my view.