The AP has just announced it will start will using robots to write stories about earnings reports. This software will allow the company to increase its output from 300 to 4,400 stories per quarter, but the AP claims this won’t replace the work its reporters do. Via Poynter:
That does not mean job cuts or less coverage, Ferrara writes: “If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage.” Instead, he writes, “our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.”
Several companies have been playing around with robot writers in recent years; with this the trend takes another step toward the mainstream. This story shouldn’t give rise to fears of robots sucking up all the dwindling journalism jobs and further dispossessing our country’s hapless humanities majors. Finance journalism of this type, essentially just data mining, is low-hanging fruit for automation (as is basic sports writing, where automation already has a head start). Much of it is already “robotically formulaic”, and letting robots do the data mining will do more to create new kinds of content than it will to replace the work most paid journalists do.