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Thursday, June 20, 2019

How Computation is Changing Journalism

This article was published by the Communications of the ACM.


Nicholas Diakopoulos grew up being exposed to journalism, as his father was a journalist. The younger Dikopoulos decided he wanted to study computer science, and completed a Ph.D. in the field at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Midway through his doctorate, he started to think about combining journalism and computation into a new field: computational journalism.

Today, Diakopoulos is an assistant professor in communication studies and computer science at Northwestern University; he also serves as director of the university's Computational Journalism Lab.

In his new book Automating the News: How Algorithms Are Rewriting the Media, Diakopoulos explores the new field of computational journalism, which he has been helping to establish since 2007. The book makes clear how algorithms are changing the journalistic production pipeline from information gathering to sense-making, story-telling, and finally news distribution. Artificial intelligence (AI) already is used to personalize article recommendations, summarize articles, mine data in documents, transcribe recorded interviews, automate content production, moderate comments, and to eliminate (but unfortunately, also to produce) fake news.

What should all journalists know about your book?

A lot of journalists who don't understand how artificial intelligence works might feel threatened: 'oh, AI bots are going to write all our stories. We will be out of work'. In my book, I show over and over again that the cognitive labor of journalists is very difficult to completely automate. There are, of course, bits and pieces that can and will be automated, but more important will be the hybridization of AI with journalists. Jobs in journalism will not disappear, but instead will change.

Read the full article on the website of the ACM.