AP computer will write earnings reports
The nation's largest newsgathering organization says it wants its business reporters to move away from writing routine corporate earnings stories, so it is turning over those responsibilities to a computer.
The Associated Press will use software to write 150- to 300-word updates on profit or loss — and produce more of them than its human reporters ever could. It said the reliance on automated technology won't cost any reporters their jobs.
“Our customers and public have told us they want news that goes beyond the numbers,” said Lou Ferrara, the AP managing editor who oversees business news. “It's a quandary. The numbers are important, but the value of a couple of paragraphs evaporates quickly after they are out. Our readers what more.”
News Media Guild President Martha Waggoner could not be reached for comment.
AP automated reporting of sports scores and summaries, but the corporate reports will be written in narrative sentences by computers — making critical decisions on content always made by human reporters.
“I absolutely do not see this as the end of journalism as we know it,” said Kelly McBride, ethicist at The Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank in St. Petersburg, Fla. “Generally, I think this is a good thing. ... Fire all the journalists? That's not going to happen.”
Ferrara said no jobs will be lost to automation, but he declined to discuss AP's business news staffing levels and whether any additions or reductions have been made in the past year.
Analyst Alan D. Mutter, a former newspaper executive who teaches at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, said he thinks automation should work well for extremely routine stories.
“But if all they're going to do is reduce reporters, that's different,” he said. “I hope they will use the savings for higher-level reporting, such as explainers, in-depth articles, things like that.”
Ferrara said AP now publishes about 300 earnings stories each quarter by reporters who crunch the numbers and rewrite information from company reports. Once the system is fully in place, AP will be able to supply up to 4,400 earnings stories each quarter. Stories will start to appear this month.
Technology from Automated Insights Inc. of Durham, N.C., paired with data from Zacks Investment Research, will allow AP to produce the earnings stories in about the same time that it took reporters, Ferrara said.
AP is an investor in Automated Insights.
“Our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports,” Ferrara said.
John D. Oravecz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7882 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gas drilling company withdraws application for forced pooling in Western Pennsylvania
- U-PARC houses companies ranging from innovative to traditional
- Deported migrants find home at call centers
- Students walk shop class path to excellence
- Amazon to buy streaming video game platform Twitch
- States clear way for startups to use crowdfunding
- Lower your cable bill by streaming shows
- Compelling cases exist for cashing out, staying in as stock market soars
- States fight back against financial scams aimed at seniors
- Water management company Comtech’s focus saves time, money for clients in oil, gas industry
- McDonald’s attempts to ditch its junk food reputation