Isle of Wight innovates in a new area of Journalism

OnTheWight are always looking at ways to innovate in journalism. Our latest – automated generation of articles.

mac keyboard

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.

Image: mactitioner under CC BY 2.0

Monday, 7th September, 2015 2:09pm



Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

5 Comments on "Isle of Wight innovates in a new area of Journalism"

newest oldest most voted
Email updates?

An interesting development. I will be interested to read your opinion after you’ve used it for a while. Wonder if it will save you a noticeable amount of time…

Mr X

Good to see you continuing to innovate Simon. Keep up the good work.

Mark Francis

Can we do the same with the comments too?


I like the concept and can see how it might work for introducing and concluding official announcements, with stats, etc. Good luck with it.

Think of how much editorial time you could have saved in reporting the Finney vs Pugh exchanges! What number are we up to now? #11!?

Sally Perry

Thanks for the best wishes. The possibilities are endless, so we’re very excited about the developments.