How Machine Learning Is Impacting Journalism?

The increased adoption of technology across various sectors of an economy has left no stone unturned. The proliferation of technology like machine learning applications can be witnessed in every aspect of our lives. Be it interaction on a daily basis, or simplifying laborious tasks, technology has its hand in every pie. The year gone by was a pinnacle year in the file of journalism where news publishing houses embraced machine learning tools to augment newsrooms. The Washington Post used a robot reporting program called Heliograf which, in its first year, produced approximately 850 articles. The LA times leveraged artificial intelligence applications to report on earthquakes basis the data collected from the US geological survey. It also tracked homicide information on every homicide committed in the city. Bloomberg news adopted an automated content program called Cyborg which churned out thousands of articles using financial reports and turning them into news stories like a business reporter. CNBC and other newsrooms are using semi-automatic video creation platforms produce engaging social videos.

Machine Learning and artificial intelligence are all about digitizing human knowledge and human abilities, and it is revolutionizing the present day journalism. Publishers can leverage machine learning techniques to personalize reader experiences based on hundreds of criteria. The algorithms gradually learn about the readers’ habits, interests, and preferences. It then sorts the relevant content in editions in their preferred formats, channels and frequencies. This, in turn, increases readers’ satisfaction and engagement and ultimately leading to an increase in subscription growth.

Another area where machine learning application can be used is in curbing fake news. Using algorithms, machine learning techniques analyses from over a thousand news sources of different topics to gather all the details. It then rewrites a non-biased, an impartial version of the story taking into account the trustworthiness of each source and removing any further chances of any potential bias. Apart from removing political bias as well, the algorithms are designed in such a way that it also comes up with impartial headlines. Robots are another way where the power of this technology can be harnessed. Although the employment of robots can be seen as a threat to humans for overtaking their positions, it rather helps to free up journalists to work on more interesting and complex stories. Robot journalism can also aid in expanding news coverage areas. In recent attempts, a Chinese state-run news agency has debuted the world’s first news anchor. Another notable development is the rise of data journalism which is empowering journalists with AI-driven tools which give deep insight into breaking stories using data analytics. Although a novel concept and still in its nascent stage, there are predictive tools being developed that will allow journalists to peer into the future by predicting news events through statistical methods. Few other applications of machine learning can include smart text-to-speech features for voice assistants, recommendation widgets based on user movement data for videos and other content, Information extraction, clustering and visualization of complex, unstructured data masses.

There have been considerations and talks about the ethical code of conduct in journalism with respect to adoption of these next-generation technologies. But technology does have the potential to solve a number of other problems that modern journalists are coming up against.