is the search filter type of algorithm, of which Google Search is the most
advanced example. Then there are news alerts: a search engine can go through
material such as records of police investigations and give an alert if a
celebrity has been caught for something – but it’s still a human who actually
writes the article. This isn’t done in Finland yet, as far as I know, but the
Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet is using news alerts. And there are various ways to
combine automatically filtered data.”
steps in Finland, the USA far ahead
to fully employ algorithms, the data used has to be extremely structured. This
will easily create a bottleneck as data is rarely available in the required
and financial data typically meet the requirements. In the USA, interim reports
have to follow a certain format with standard layout of figures. Therefore they
are created automatically, and the data they include can also be used with
is not the case in Finland or elsewhere in the EU, however, where decisions on
the standardisation of financial data are still underway. Finnish newspapers
such as business paper Kauppalehti cannot really automate their reporting
period news even if they would be motivated to do so. In Denmark, Ritzau Finans
has had to develop their own solutions to be able to produce automated business
results data is more or less the only form of data that meets the standard
requirements in Finland, but according to Lindén it has not so far been used
news are produced automatically, which anyone can see on their mobile phones. Finland
is genuinely a model country of open data; you just have to find the
interesting data and examine if it can be combined with some other data.”
the USA, automated news articles are already produced on a large scale. Associated
Press (AP) publishes automatically financial news in particular.
are two companies that have created a new market, in a way. Formerly owned and
then sold for big bucks by AP, Automated Insights now produces corporate sales
summaries for AP and others. And Narrative Science specialises in sports
results,” Lindén says.
companies exist in Sweden, Germany, France and China, he says – and language is
no barrier when texts are simple.
go of routines or jobs?
himself is an experienced journalist. Future in the world of automated news
doesn’t sound scary to him?
it good if the machine does the boring, time-consuming routine stuff, and we
can focus on something sensible? If jobs are lost, they will be lost anyway. But
automation can in fact save jobs as it can help publishers maintain the
necessary news volumes with lower costs. In the best-case scenario, this will
create more resources to concentrate on in-depth news coverage.”
has happened at AP that had already cuts lots of jobs. The remaining staff
wrote 300 articles per reporting period, most of them routine news about
financial results. Now robots create 3,000 articles per reporting period, while
journalists can focus on a few major corporations that have to be analysed
manually. But they are happy.
also heard about an American company, though, that buys local papers, automates
everything and sacks most of the staff. But I don’t think this one will be a
long-term player as one gets bored quite soon when reading lots of
for meta journalists
believes that journalists will surely be needed in future as well. It is the journalist who chooses the angle,
decides what is interesting and relevant and what people should know. This
responsibility cannot be left to other professionals such as coders.
the journalists’ work is changing.
journalists will have to know how to code at least a little, and they’ll have to
be able to think of structures: how to build an information infrastructure.
They are called meta journalists. And they already exist in the USA if not
journalist decides that the world of algorithms is outside their area of
competence, they will be in trouble. But if they instead decide to seize the
day and learn something new, it will open a whole lot of new opportunities
emphasises, however, that transparency is vital in journalism. The reader will
always have to know how the article was produced and the principles and data
power duo: man and machine
calls the combination of man and machine invincible. For a human being, it’s
nearly impossible and at least frustrating to write dozens of variations of the
same article, but for a machine it’s no problem.
machine can learn the reader’s way to use content and then edit the article
accordingly. It can change pictures, rewrite the headings, try different
colours – and learn to choose the best options for various targets. This can be
really decisive when focusing at young readers.”
already happening in advertising. In journalism, newspapers like the Guardian
and the New York Times are trying it out in their online versions. But Lindén
points out that the model is a big whole and the produced text is just a part
of it. User analysis is at least equally important and also done automatically.
is incredibly fast and algorithms are becoming self-learning. Even now it’s
often impossible to say if a text has been created by man or machine. And this
applies not only journalism but also literature and poetry. But Lindén is
can also compose music and make art. But we still have composers and artists.”