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Welcome To A New Year. Welcome To The Possible Future Of Local Media.

3 Jan , 2022  

By 1812Blockhouse with content by Anyword

Welcome to 2022!

Here is something brand new for a brand new year. Perhaps for the first time in the history of Richland County news media (as far as we are aware, that is), you are currently reading a published non-sports story which was partially written by a machine.

Could this be part of the future of local media?

It already is.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, and it can be used to do just about anything. Nowadays, your phone isn’t even fully usable without some sort of AI like Siri or Google Assistant to help you navigate it. But you may be surprised to learn that AI is also being used by the news media to help with their reporting efforts. So what does this mean for the future of the news media?

Having seen a boom over recent years, AI currently sits at an intersection of multiple industries. From self-driving cars to legal cases, it’s proving itself valuable in more ways than we could have possibly imagined. According to business intelligence platform, Biznology, AI is being used across marketing and sales; customer service; human resources; recruiting and training; procurement; IT operations and support services as well as HR strategy. So it comes as no surprise that media organizations are embracing artificial intelligence too.

AI is widely used in businesses and organizations today. Anywhere that there’s massive amounts of data and a business need to make sense of that data—newsrooms are no exception. There are many places in a newsroom where AI could be utilized. The first use case for AI in newsrooms comes with analysis, which can help determine what content will attract more audience members (and thus drive traffic) by using machine learning and algorithms. While it is important to remember not all data points can be predicted from previous years’ numbers, big picture trends can still give journalists an idea of what type of content will help draw readership.

While AI may not entirely replace human journalists, it does have potential to help reduce costs, increase efficiency and remove human error from written reporting.

Almost three years ago local publication Richland Source, in connection with other entities, created a sports-oriented AI software called Lede AI that produces “local sports coverage at scale.” Each week dozens of games are “covered” by the service. Short stories are automatically generated with language which attempts to match the game’s score, etc. with applicable language.

Does it work? To some extent, yes, although it does tend to strain out local dynamics and arguably makes the story less relevant and informative to the reader.

The future of artificial intelligence in the news is now being forged, and we’re following that story closely. Rest assured that if and when we use non-human generated content in the future, we will be making that fact clear to our readers.

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