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The musings of a Detroit-area sportswriter in the digital age.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

They took our jobs

I've long recited that phrase from an epic episode of "South Park," but never imagined in this field I would bemoan computer software that could one day replace writers of my ilk.
Narrative Science, wrongly accused by Deadspin of scripting a baseball game story which neglected the fact there was a perfect game pitched, is a program that takes the nuts and bolts and crafts an entire article.
The company says:
"We tell the story behind the data. Our technology identifies trends and angles within large data sources and automatically creates compelling copy. We can build upon stories, providing deeper context around particular subjects over time. Every story is generated entirely from scratch and is always unique."
Narrative Science says it can cost-effectively create:
  • Sports Stories
  • Financial Reports
  • Real Estate Analyses
  • Local Community Content
  • Original Web Content
  • Other Industry Coverage
It wouldn't be so bad so long as legitimate news reporters were needed for follow-up and feature stories, but there's no telling what types of stories this computer program is capable of.
In this day and age, where professional teams hire their own staffs of writers, photographers and videographers, it's another bad sign for the legion of sports reporters who've seen newsroom staffs dwindle in the past decade.
Maybe I'm making something out of nothing. I hope that's the case.
We can only hope readers step to the plate on this and demand human-generated stories by writers actually present for or familiar with the situation they're expected to write about.


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