What does 'robot reporting' mean for journalism?


Robots lurched into factories to replace the assembly line workers. Now could they be squeezing into newsrooms to replace journalists? There is computer software available that can fact-check and even provide editorial content. But is the world ready for the supercomputer journalist?

Last week, the Washington Post launched "TruthTeller," a news application that tries to detect any false claims politicians might make in speeches, television ads or interviews. The application is powered by an algorithm that matches claims with a database of facts.

The program is just one example of how computer-assisted and even computer-generated reporting is on the rise in newsrooms. Another newspaper that's broken a lot of ground in this area is the Los Angeles Times.

For more, we spoke to Ben Welsh, the Los Angeles Times' Database Producer.

Steven Levy - Senior Writer, Wired Magazine

More and more newsrooms are using computer-assisted journalism. But how close are we to the age of robot reporters replacing humans? We asked Steven Levy for his opinion. As a senior writer for Wired, he's written about this subject and has asked the question "Can an Algorithm Write a Better News Story than a Human Reporter?"

Romayne Smith Fullerton - Ethics Editor, J-Source

Some fear that relying on technology for reporting takes the human element out of storytelling and also risks putting more journalists out of work. We were joined by Romayne Smith Fullerton. In addition to being the ethics editor at J-Source, she's also an associate professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies at Western University in London, Ontario.

This segment was produced by The Current's Dawna Dingwall and Pacinthe Mattar.

To add your thoughts to anything you hear on the show, tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or on Facebook. Or email us from our website. And if you missed the conversation on yesterday's edition of The Current, you can hear it on our podcast.

Other segments on today's show:

Getting tough on tax evasion

Documentary: Monkeys of Bioko Island

Ex-Khmer Rouge leader dies as trial continues

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