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So many stories, so little time. In this era of 24 hour news cycles where news breaks more often on social media than on the front page, newsrooms and journalists have been able to work more efficiently to stay on top of important stories by using Artificial Intelligence. AI has long been seen as away of relegating the more mundane, time-consuming tasks away from the man to the machine, allowing journalists more time to do the thing we rely on them for: reporting. But things are changing, and AI is developing with an aim of doing more to the newsroom than helping achieve maximum productivity.
Some early adopters in the AI efficiency space were technologies like the BBC News’ Juicer Project. Juicer launched in 2012 with the aim to “provide a source of tagged News content to power prototypes.” Juicer, which has since been folded into BBC News Labs, is able to capture the power of machine searching, quickly scanning through new articles and pulling out trending content. This fast, automated process ultimately streamles media workflow. The same goes for Reuter’s News Tracer, a technology that tracks breaking news and allows for reporters to identify and then substantiate their stories in real time.
Even newspapers like the New York Times have taken a shot at using AI to help simplify the reporting process. Their Editor app scans articles to then extract relevant data at superhuman speed. “As the journalist is writing in the text editor, every word, phrase and sentence is emitted on to the network so that any microservice can process that text and send relevant metadata back to the editor interface.” The Times even uses AI to help moderate their popular comments section. Manpower only allowed for them to moderate comments on 10 percent of articles. The Perspective API tool developed by Jigsaw, is “creating an opportunity to encourage constructive discussions online by using machine learning to increase the efficiency of comment moderation.”
In 2015, The Washington Post launched Knowledge Map with the aim to give “readers an easier way to catch up on ongoing stories by quickly and seamlessly providing relevant background, additional information or answers to frequently asked questions, when the reader wants it.” AI tools such as this are not only enhancing the reader experience, they’re empowering journalists first and foremost by pointing them in the direction of timely story ideas, helping them analyze pertinent data, and ultimately assisting them on how best to adapt those stories to their audience.
And how does a reporter find their way to the perfect story for their readers? The entire process begins when, for example, journalists use services like Dataminr.
Looking ahead to the AI of tomorrow, there are some new, forward-thinking AI solutions currently in development in Europe, many of which are focusing on applications that can help journalists better report their stories and allowing for more time to focus on facts. Rossum, for example, founded by a publisher and data scientist, focuses on deep, contextual analysis of documents. This kind of work can save a lot of time when reporting on a data intensive story. But there’s more. Rossum is taking extract to a whole new level. Rossum “sees” semantics “the way a human mind does.” So this isn’t data just for the sake of data, its data with context.
Factmata is another company that is developing technology to “deal with hate speech, propaganda, fake news, and clickbait. Our goal is to be able to provide a real time quality and credibility score to any piece of content on the web.”
Furthermore, there are some technologies, like Exponenta.io, that are simply looking to help optimize content for maximum virality. These technologies are about efficiency and finding the fastest way to the facts, but they’re also there to make it easier for the creators of content to find out and understand who is actually consuming their content.
No matter which way you look at it, when it comes to AI and Machine Learning the name of the game is optimization. AI in the newsroom has changed the way journalists work, and new and burgeoning advances in technology will only continue to move the world toward an even more augmented newsroom - one that strives gives its readers the best possible stories at the exact moment they need them.