The Future of Automation and Journalism
Labor scholars and popular media outlets have suggested that robots will put humans out of jobs in the near future. Programs with social bot front ends, like LA Quake Bot, are able to actually write articles–so it’s unsurprising that fear of robot usurpation is present in journalism too. Bots cannot, however, capture the nuance of an investigative report. At best, those like Quake Bot are used for the most simple article generation–recording the when and where of an event.
Beneficial bots suggest potential for a degree of technological optimism. Bots can work to supplement the tools already available to journalists–acting as a reporting prosthesis. They can be programmed to search for particular evidence or information, streamlining the data analysis process. Social bots can automatically tweet news to the public, working to update citizens on important legislation, events, and concerns. They can write basic articles and leave space for journalists to investigate, interview, and comment. In short, journalists should not fear bots but rather should learn how to harness them to their benefit.