Editors are safe for the moment, but this is an interesting experiment in news automation and an interesting way of determining what is “breaking news.”
While not ready for prime time now, I could see this becoming much better.
Have you tried the alpha FOIA Machine?
It’s from the Center for Investigative Reporting with funding from the Knight Foundation (some $47,000) and a Kickstarter campaign? Investigative reporter Djordje Padejski got the project going.
Here are some tips on using it.
The Center for Investigative Reporting calls the FOIA machine the “TurboTax for government records.”
Ken Schwencke, a journalist and programmer for the Los Angeles Times, was jolted awake at 6:25 a.m. on Monday by an earthquake. He rolled out of bed and went straight to his computer, where he found a brief story about the quake already written and waiting in the system. He glanced over the text and hit “publish.” And that’s how the LAT became the first media outlet to report on this morning’s temblor. “I think we had it up within three minutes,” Schwencke told me.
The story was “written” by a program called Quakebot which Schwencke created some three years ago. Here’s the Bot story. While not award-winning journalism, it got the news out.
Google Sheets is an extremely powerful tool for journalists. If you’re a “math-challenged journalist,” you owe it to yourself to learn how to use Google Sheets.
Here’s a Google video on late 2013 update.
Above is a screen shot of Touchcast, a powerful tool for creating a new kind of video presentation. It’s one of the tools listed in an awesome spreadsheet of tools of interest to journalist (most i’ve never heard of, much less tried) from the College Media Podcast blog.
I just added it to my pinboard.in links (a terrific tool not on the list).