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News-Writing Robots Make their Way into Editorial Bureaus | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London- Western media, especially in the US, have increasingly relied on “automated journalism.” Over the last few years, news-writing bots have made their way into editorial offices.

The Washington Post has used the gift of artificial intelligence to help in preparing some 850 stories last year alone.

The Associated Press, an American multinational nonprofit news agency headquartered in New York City, operates another program for editing and writing brief stories.

The Los Angeles Times resorted to an algorithmic writing system called “Quakebot” to cover the LA earthquake in 2014.

In China, the Xiao Nan was developed by a research team at Peking University, Beijing, led by Professor Xiaojun Wan.

The robot journalist recently published an article about Spring Festival travel rush in Southern Metropolis Daily based in Guangzhou, wroting some 300 words to cover the topic.

The Washington Post, one of the most prestigious media outlets, has relied heavily on artificial intelligence since the Jeff Bezos acquisition in 2013. The newspaper began preparing for developing a more efficient robot which can tackle complex topics with some depth and explanatory details.

Last year, the outlet’s own Heliograf editing tool was used in the Rio Olympics coverage, and later used an upgraded version to cover the US elections.

“Automated storytelling has the potential to transform The Post’s coverage. More stories, powered by data and machine learning, will lead to a dramatically more personal and customized news experience,” said Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Washington Post.

“The Olympics are the perfect way to prove the potential of this technology. In 2014, the sports staff spent countless hours manually publishing event results. Heliograf will free up Post reporters and editors to add analysis, color from the scene and real insight to stories in ways only they can,” he added.

Algorithm writing has proved its importance across many aspects such as speed. China’s Xiao Nan system has been able to write 300 words in one second, which is ideal for breaking news.

At the Rio Olympics, China’s writer bot published 450 subjects in 15 days, ranging from 100 to 800 words per topic. The robot prepared stories for a Chinese news site in record-breaking time—averaging a short two minutes after the end of each sports event.