Thursday, August 24, 2006

Welcome to the Machine

Forget losing our jobs to outsourcing. Forget losing our jobs to citizen journalists. They ain't gonna need them either soon the way things are going because computers can now produce journalism (and do an ok job of it).

No, I did not read this in the Onion and get confused between real and fake news, before any of you ask. This lovely development was chronicled by The Financial Times -- and I'll thank Ms. Shiers on The News Hole's behalf for sending it along in an effort to keep our blog from dying here.

Anyway, for those to lazy to click the link, here's the top:

First it was the typewriter, then the teleprinter. Now a US news service has found a way to replace human beings in the newsroom and is instead using computers to write some of its stories.

Thomson Financial, the business information group, has been using computers to generate some stories since March and is so pleased with the results that it plans to expand the practice.

The computers work so fast that an earnings story can be released within 0.3 seconds of the company making results public.

By using previous results in Thomson’s database, the computer stories say whether a company has done better or worse than expected.

“This is not about cost but about delivering information to our customers at a speed at which they can make an almost immediate trading decision,” said Matthew Burkley, senior vice-president of strategy at Thomson Financial.

“This means we can free up reporters so they have more time to think.”

I'm not even gonna throw in my two cents.

(Insert dejected sigh and shake of head here)


At 1:01 PM, Blogger Sara said...

That's nuts!

0.3 seconds! Do they really need the information so fast they are bypassing humans to get the news out?


* also shaking head and sighing

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Leslie said...

Guess this means Joe can officially retire. And future Econ students won't have a quota of earnings reports to file - lucky SOBs.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Max said...

Just to play devil's advocate here. Maybe there's something to the quote at the end of the excerpt. "This means we can free up reporters so they have more time to think."

What's the point of having a person write dozens of formulaic earnings story when a computer can do it for them? The reporter could then use that time to write a more complex piece. Sounds good to me since everyone's bemoaning the lack of hard-hitting long form journalism these days.

And, yes, in the world of the stock market, they do need the info that fast. That's why there's a market for Bloomberg and other similar services...

At 2:58 PM, Blogger AG said...

Max - I agree but that assumes they will pour nay time and money savings back into the newsroom. Call me a cynic (hard to do - i know) but I don't have that kind of faith. You know there are guys in corner offices somewhere be they investors in the company or its executives, licking their chops here because it will eventually end up as a way to reduce manpower costs.

At 2:59 PM, Blogger AG said...

I think it will eventually free up more reporters so they have time to think - while unemployed

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Sara said...

Good point, Max. Ideally, if the reporters were putting thier efforts to bigger stories, this makes sense (and I concede that I know little about the pace of finacial reporting).

But I have to agree with the cynic in AG. Sounds like cost cutting.

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Deep Blue said...

Ha, you fuckers are all screwed!


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