A human-robotic symbiosis can be the future of the modern newsroom

algorrythme.jpg
 

Researcher and ViSmedia team member Nicholas Dilopokus has recently published his latest book, Automating the News: How Algorithms are Rewriting the Media. The book addresses the use of AI and algorithms in journalism today as well as predicting its future as a journalistic method.

Fear of a technological take over has made many journalists and media scholars pessimistic about the future of the journalistic profession. Diakopolus claims that there is room for both, but journalists have to adapt to the technology.

- AI and automation are far from destroying jobs in journalism. They’re creating new work – as well as changing existing jobs. The journalists of tomorrow will need to be trained to design, update, tweak, validate, correct, supervise and generally maintain these systems. Many may need skills for working with data and formal logical thinking to act on that data. Fluency with the basics of computer programming wouldn’t hurt either.
— Nicholas Diakopoulos
HI_20190829_03.jpg

Diakolpouls has had the idea for this book for over 12 years when he still was a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. But he first started the research for the book back in 2016. Read a summary of the book here and scroll down for a short interview with Diakopolus about his thoughts around his research.



Q: How did you come up whit the idea for the book?

It seemed like the right time for me to write this book, both in terms of where I was professionally as well as just having a critical mass of ideas that I thought warranted a longer book-length treatment. The book draws on many ideas and studies I've developed over the years. For instance, in Chapter 6 I cover the topic of Algorithmic Accountability, a topic I originally wrote about in 2013 but which I have developed in new ways.


Q: Who is the book written for?

The book has multiple audiences, including practitioners of journalism as well as scholars of information and communication studies and students in those disciplines. Mostly I tried to not write it in a totally boring way so it could be accessible to a wide array of people!



Q: Were there any discoveries you made during your research that surprised you in any way?

At the end of the project, I was surprised with really how nascent the whole area of automation, algorithms, and AI in journalism still is. There's a ton more going on now than there was 12 years ago, and there's even new stuff that's come out in the last year too, but there are still not all that many organizations and journalists really thinking closely about it. I was surprised by how many of the projects I found in the domain had been stimulated by Google's Digital News Initiative funding in Europe. It's fair to say that funding is certainly having an impact in driving forth the field.


Q: Why should people read this book and what makes your perspective on the topic stand out from previous research?

There's a lot of useful and applicable material in there that I think can truly help media practitioners think more strategically about their use of data, automation, and algorithms in their practice. No one has written that before! I'm hoping it's an inspiring read that encourages more journalists (and aspiring journalists) to get into these topics and push the field forward.

 

Hedvig Idås