“The advent of the internet and the subsequent information explosion has made it increasingly challenging for journalists to produce news accurately and swiftly.” So begin the research and development team at the global news agency Reuters in a paper on the arXiv this week.
For Reuters, the problem has been made more acute by the emergence of fake news as an important factor in distorting the perception of events.
Nevertheless, news agencies such as the Associated Press have moved ahead with automated news writing services. These report standard announcements such as financial news and certain sports results by pasting the data into pre-written templates: “X reported profit of Y million in Q3, in results that beat Wall Street forecasts … ”
So there is significant pressure on other news agencies to automate news production. And today, Reuters outlines how it has almost entirely automated the identification of breaking news stories. Xiaomo Liu and pals at Reuters Research and Development and Alibaba say the new system performs well. Indeed, it has the potential to revolutionize the news business. But it also raises concerns about how such a system could be gamed by malicious actors.