The Robots Are Coming!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

They are smarter, faster, stronger and even better at Jeopardy than us. They are robots, and they appear to be finding a niche in almost every facet of our lives-not excluding reporting. A technology feature in The Week debuted the newest arena for robots to play: journalism.

That's right, robots are now being hired from one company by more than 20 anonymous sources to pen some of their articles. Although primarily focusing on sports, they are writing on countless other subjects with just as much success. Why hire a robot to do what humans have been doing for centuries? Apparently, they are not only efficient at the task, but also quite good at it. Robotic writing programs "can write articles in under a minute," and industry leader Mr. Hammond predicts, "in five years, a computer program will win a Pulitzer Prize."

Panic (for everyone even slightly involved with the journalism industry) seems to be a natural reaction, but nerves can be calmed...for a moment at least. Experts in robotics say that the stories being written currently are simply stories that would not have been told if it wasn't for the journalist robots. However, one point of alarm is the quality at which they are writing. Linguist "seem impressed." The former versions of these programs and the products they produced seemed, well, quite robotic. New technology has been able to provide a more humanistic voice to the work along with an attention to detail that only a computer could posses.

It seems only logical in this age of ever-growing technological advancements that computers would begin playing a larger role in reporting. There are areas with which humans simply cannot compete with a program such as the speed at which they are able to write. Simultaneously, there are some with which we can. Emotion and genuine concern are two key components lacking in current robotic reporting. Although journalist must stay fair and unbiased, it is their intangible drive for the common good that leads them to reporting and keeping the public informed. If you are still worried about lay-offs due to an influx in robot reporters, a career in robotics is always an option.


Crime reporters come with a variety of credentials...and rights

Covering crime stories is not for the faint of heart, nor is it any longer reserved solely for those who are "professional journalists." A piece in the Washington Times recently discussed this new trend.

The article detailed the August 26th verdict of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Glik v. Cunniffe. This outcome was monumental because it stated that citizens, too, have the right to document the world around them, despite their journalistic resume, and further upheld the First Amendment.

The case revolved around a man who used his phone to film what he thought to be police brutality, and was arrested when he would not turn the phone over to authorities. I am a strong supporter of quality and excellence from professional reporters, but with advancements in information sharing, I must accept (and appreciate) that news will come from many different sources; news that we may otherwise never know.

"News stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper."

Our textbook offers a few guidelines for reporting on crime, such as get to know the cops, but if it is they who are the offenders this advice falls short. There are key items that should be taken into account, but even if one is a professional reporter they do not always help. The article states that journalist are first and foremost citizens, acting on behalf of fellow average citizens. If we take that as our definition of a journalist, then we open up the field to all. Furthermore, if we use that as our foundation then we will leave a mark on the world that is not only informative but compassionate as well.


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP