10 Minutes on NPR to Understand Automated News

The Future of Journalism


So I gave a radio interview to NPR last week on the future of news and automated journalism. Like most good NPR radio, the host turned our casual conversation into an audio story, and when this happens to your own words, it's like 100x more cool.

Listen to it here or scroll down to listen to it on KSFR's site.

Dylan Syverson at KSFR happened to read an interview I gave for MediaShift while I was out at SXSW. We exchanged a few brief emails, and I discovered he's a guitar guy and a poker guy, so right away we had something in common. The actual interview conversation started with that -- guitar stuff and hold 'em stuff -- and then we naturally pivoted into automated news.

What he turned that conversation into was a concise 10-minutes encapsulating everything I want journalists, broadcasters, and all other media people to know about automated content and Natural Language Generation.

We opened with the somewhat alarming warning that automated news is already here, and has been, and you've probably read it without realizing it. But this was a softer, less-dystopian take than what I usually get confronted with. Dylan got it immediately.

That allowed us to jump right into process of automating content, and how we do what we do to create automated content as well as how we let anyone create automated content with our customer-facing software. Dylan was great at drawing the distinction between our incredibly complex engine and our extremely customer-friendly interface.

We got into an intelligent discussion about automated content replacing journalists, and the theme I've been hitting on lately, which is that automated content should be in every newsroom in the world, standing side-by-side and complementing traditional journalism. It's not about the human journalist becoming obsolete, it's about being able to interact with the insane volume of data that's now available and mandatory for writing good news.

I brought this theme to SXSW and confirmed it there, the proof being a line of media executives lining up after my talk to ask questions and give me their card. It's not the messenger bringing those folks to automated content, it's the message. And the response to that message is no longer "how soon until we're replaced," but definitely more "how can we start using this immediately."

That's a much better response than we were getting back in 2010.

I also got to talk about what's next for automated content, which is audio and video. I talked about the Hackathon we co-hosted with Amazon's Alexa team back in January, and also about my work with video, which I'll be revealing a little more of at NAB Show (National Association of Broadcasters), on April 23rd.

read the published article at: http://ksfr.org/post/automated-news-madlibs-it-aint