News reports on crime, health, and unemployment will soon be written with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). The Press Association news agency has already received a grant of $806,000 from Google’s Digital News Initiative fund according to a report published by The Verge. Media outlets in the United Kingdom and Ireland get their news stories from Press Association.

The popular news agency will work with a start-up outlet called Urbs Media to produce 30,000 local stories monthly using the help of artificial intelligence in collaboration with human journalists. Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief of the Press Association, details that writers will still create the detailed story templates.

What AI workflow looks like

Using Urbs Media’s Reporters and Data and Robots (RADAR) tool, human writers will fill in the blanks to help localize each article. They will still be an important part of the process of writing news articles according to Clifton. However, the AI writers through the use of RADAR will help scale up the volume of local stories. He added that the number of stories needed by the Press Association to produce is impossible to provide manually.

In 2014, a digital journalist was already employed by the Los Angeles Times to write about an earthquake. It was the first newspaper to publish about the disaster with the help of Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer who created an algorithm that generates a short write up about an article.

Google funds local news automation

The grant received by the Press Association for the United Kingdom and Ireland is one of the largest allocations given by the giant tech Google.

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This is in response to meet the increasing demand for consistent and factual insights of regional media outlets, independent publishers, and even bloggers. Human journalists will first have to identify national open databases from the government, local authorities and NHS Trusts. They will then need to create detailed story templates for a broad range of topics. A software called Natural Language Generation (NLC) will be used to produce multiple versions of the story.

Getting rid of human reporters is one of the concerns of real journalists. Tim Dawson, president of the National Union of Journalists, said that the real problem happening in the media nowadays is too little bona fide reporting. Dawson does not believe that this new scheme is going to replace the reality. As a president of the union, he is worried that there will be third-rate stories and news organizations can get rid to human reporters.