The Reporters and Data Robots (RADAR) initiative run by the Press Association and Urbs Media has seen its first articles published across the UK.
RADAR uses software to edit articles written by human reporters by inserting localised statistics into the stories. The pilot scheme has so far seen stories published in 20 publications since it began in late November.
This is yet a further example of technology disrupting a traditional industry. It raises the question, is it possible for software to eventually be developed which will replace reporters and consign journalists to just fact-finding, to feed into the machine?
I suspect not. Whilst technology has the power to dramatically speed up the production of stories, freeing journalists for other tasks, it is hard to foresee a future where a machine is able to replicate the judgement of a human writer, and crucially, the sense for what makes a piece of writing a news-worthy story.
But who knows? I may be proved wrong...
Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, described the software as a “useful tool.” “Ultimately it is the journalist who must check the context and analysis . . . I cannot see how it could be used to replace journalists. Humans are still required to make ethical decisions on what is published,” she said.