OnTheWight has been experimenting with a new form of journalism. It’s so new, it doesn’t really have an agreed name yet.
Augmented automated news is one of the names that is used. Another is Algorithmic Journalism.
Working with Island-based data and technology expert, Tony Hirst, we’ve created a programme that writes an article.
Fear not, this isn’t the start of robotic tones, but we see it as an opportunity for us to be able to create articles that are relatively formulaic, free us to carry out real journalism – examining stories of local interest and holding power to account.
Magical to see it running
Two of our recent reports on the JSA figures, in June and July 2015, were created by a computer programme. That is, once the data is released by the ONS, the programme gathers the Isle of Wight-specific data, puts it through the predefined logic and ‘writes’ the article, while creating the graph to illustrate the story.
It’s magical to see it running.
The human touch
The articles haven’t just been published automatically, but have first gone through a human editor to ensure what’s in them is correct and complete.
The development time with Tony has been extensive and the reality is that, at this early stage, the work we’ve put in with Tony has taken far longer than it would take for us just to write the piece, but this is expected during an innovation stage.