Home Data Google funds project to automate local news creation

Google has announced it will be providing US$805,000 to the British news agency Press Association to pay for the creation of an automated local news service.

The service will be known as Reporters And Data And Robots or Radar and the software is expected to generate more than 30,000 local news stories each month.

A Recode report said the money came from Google's Digital News Initiative that was started with a promise to invest US$170 million for innovation in newsrooms in Europe.

PA will receive the funds along with Urbs Media, a start-up that creates automation software which uses large open datasets.

Five journalists will be hired to identify datasets and oversee the articles created by the automated system.

PA's editor-in-chief Peter Clifton said: “This is a hugely exciting development for PA, and we believe our partnership with Urbs Media can be a genuine game-changer for media outlets across the UK and Ireland.

“At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, Radar will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account.

“We have already provided an outline of our plans to some of our regional customers, and they have been universally positive. One described it as ‘genius’!

“Ahead of PA’s 150th anniversary next year, this collaboration with Urbs Media – supported by Google – is a fitting way to show our ongoing commitment to the media partners that the news agency was originally set up to support.

“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but Radar allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually. It is a fantastic step forward for PA.”

The Associated Press has been generating reports about financial earnings by automated means since 2014.

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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