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A Machine Is Writing Articles For The Sports Pages

A Machine Is Writing Articles For The Sports Pages
Media & Publishing

The Associated Press is expanding its sports coverage with algorithm-generated stories instead of human reporters

Laura Yan
  • 7 july 2016

The Associated Press is expanding its baseball coverage, assigning stories not to human reporters but to a writing algorithm. The publishing press is using technology from Automated Insights and data from MLBAM (the baseball league’s official statistician) to generate the machine-written stories, which are published without fanfare, without a human byline and just a quiet note about the automation at the bottom of the story.

A recent machine penned story began:

“Dylan Tice was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded with one out in the 11th inning, giving the State College Spikes a 9-8 victory over the Brooklyn Cyclones on Wednesday.

Danny Hudzina scored the game-winning run after he reached base on a sacrifice hit, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and then went to third on an out.”

The story continues with a series of factual vignettes about the game. None of the machine-written stories will be up for Pulitzers, but they do provide readable accounts of games that would require much more time and effort from human reporters. The automated coverage will allow the AP to report on 13 leagues and 142 MLB-affiliated teams. The AP previously covered some Minor League games throughout 2006, but the algorithm-driven stories will allow the publisher far more comprehensive coverage.

According to the the company, “AP’s baseball editors and reporters worked closely with Automated Insights to configure the Wordsmith platform to conform to the news judgment and standards for AP’s baseball coverage.”

AP isn’t replacing human journalists with automated machines just yet, but it’s easy to see the appeal to publishers who routinely churn out formula-based stories. It might even be difficult for casual readers to tell the difference between a machine-written story and a human written one.

“The Associated Press proved the value of automated journalism with earnings stories,” said Automated Insights CEO, Robbie Allen. “We’re pleased that Wordsmith continues to be a fundamental part of the AP’s news operation, enabling the organization to cover types of news that simply couldn’t be done without automation.”

Associated Press

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