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The Associated Press offers a guide to artificial intelligence in the newsroom

April 12, 2017 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

At the Associated Press, the news department leaders were the first to suggest trying artificial intelligence. They were motivated by two mega trends in the media business: “the relentless increase in news to be covered and the human constraints associated with covering it.”

In 2013, the AP teamed up with Durham, North Carolina-based Automated Insights to automate the production of certain types of news stories directly from data. They started with sports and then extended the initiative to corporate earnings reports. Since then, the AP has continued to experiment with AI and recently published “A guide for newsrooms in the age of smart machines” based upon on its own learnings as well interviews with dozens of experts in the fields of journalism, technology, academia and entrepreneurship.

What they’ve found is that “artificial intelligence can do much more than churn out straightforward sports briefs and corporate earnings stories. It can enable journalists to analyze data; identify patterns, trends and actionable insights from multiple sources; see things that the naked eye can’t see; turn data and spoken words into text; text into audio and video; understand sentiment; analyze scenes for objects, faces, text or colors — and more.”

Key Takeaways

Among the key takeaways in the report is that, in the field of journalism, AI has potential to:

  • Attend to menial tasks and free journalists to engage in more complex, qualitative reporting.
  • Enhance communication and collaboration among journalists.
  • Enable journalists to sift through large corpuses of data, text, images, and videos.
  • Help journalists better communicate and engage with their audience.
  • Empower the creation of entirely new types of journalism.

In addition to providing insights into the practical journalistic applications of AI, the report covers the relevant technologies in this field—including machine learning, supervised learning, natural language processing, robotics, computer vision, and more. It looks at the potential impact of AI on journalists and journalism. It also considers ethical, philosophical and practical implications of implementing AI within media environments.

Above all, the report focuses on the potential for AI-human “collaboration” in which journalists are freed from many of the craft’s more mundane or repetitive tasks. Rather, leveraging AI can save organizations time and money, while being better equipped “to keep pace with the with the growing scale and scope of the news itself.”

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