Some—with can also discover statistical anomalies in the

Some—with more extreme concerns about the future ofthe industry—are even worried that robots could one day become proficient atthe task of writing original content. The Washington Post is arguably theleader at the forefront of innovation at the intersection of journalism andartificial intelligence.

Before Jeff Bezos—the man who founded Amazon.com in1994—purchased the Post in 2013, news that had generated by artificial intelligencewas coming for just a few, small, companies. At the time, the content those AItools could produce was number-heavy, and mostly was only used in the stockmarket, sports sections, and other applications where statistical analysis wasmost important. However, Bezos his employees at The Washington Post envisionedan AI tool that could generate more editorial content that was well written, well-sourced,and interesting for news consumers.According to an article written by Joe Keohane ofWired Magazine, the “Heliograf” was introduced by The Washington Post in 2016and was first used to auto-publish stories during the Summer Olympics in Rio.In late 2016, a more sophisticated version was deployed to cover the upcomingelection.

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According to Keohane, editors form a basic template or story board forthe articles they are hoping to generate. Editors and reporters can input keyphrases and plug the system into sources of organized data. From there, theHeliograf isolates significant, matches it with the key phrases used, fuses thesourcing (the data) with the key phrases (the prose), and then generates and distributesdistinctive versions on The Washington Post’s various platforms. According toKeohane the system can also discover statistical anomalies in the data sets itanalyzes, which in the case of political reporting, can be a great way to get atip about changes in polling, for instance.

Essentially, news organizations have two primarygoals when it comes to their AI tools. The first is to use AI in order to growtheir audience. Secondly, news companies hope that AI tools will not ultimatelyreplace reporters, but rather make their newsrooms more efficient by allowingtheir reporters to spend time on stories that AI can’t tackle. Traditionally,news organizations had to target a relatively large audience with a relativelysmall number of time-intensive stories written by human beings. With an AIsystem that can create compelling content, organizations can target multiplesmaller-sized audiences with a massive number of articles written by AI aboutniche subject matter. Larger news organizations are also using AI tools togenerate more localized content.

With many local news organizations struggling,larger organizations are hoping to use their AI systems to generate the localcontent that consumers are increasingly without.

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