AP will use robots to write some business stories

AP will announce Monday that it plans to use automation technology from a company called Automated Insights to produce stories about earnings reports. The software means that “instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter,” AP Managing Editor Lou Ferrara writes in a Q&A.

That does not mean job cuts or less coverage, Ferrara writes: “If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage.” Instead, he writes, “our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports.”

The data for the stories will come from Zacks Investment Research. AP has used automation to produce a “good chunk” of its sports agate for years, Ferrara writes. In May, AP said it had agreed to sell its stake in STATS LLC, which produces sports data. AP contributed to a recent financing round for Automated Insights.

“We flipped the standard content creation model on its head,” Automated Insights CEO Robbie Allen told Poynter’s Sam Kirkland earlier this year. “The standard way of creating content is, ‘I hope a million people read this.’ Our model is the inverse of that. We want to create a million pieces of content with one individual reading each copy.”

The stories will begin in July. They’ll be labeled “as being produced automatically with material from Zacks,” Ferrara writes.

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  • beejd

    Of course, this means that irregularities are likely to be missed, and creative accountants will be able to get away with even more. Nobody asking questions, or putting the pieces together.

  • Desire Athow

    That new technology doesn’t need human beings to generate the content, instead relying on algorithms to do it. Human are expensive, prone to mistakes and unreliable (I’m being sarcastic here).

  • http://alephblog.com David_Merkel

    AP gets what it deserves. Zacks’ robotic content is available at Yahoo! Finance, and it is so reliably bad, that I do not read it. AP must want to further destroy its brand.

  • Religionistheenemy.

    Is this how the robots take control?

  • Sally Bahner

    Oh, please, no.

  • John Pilge

    I wonder if the articles will still used the typical line, “… was unavailable for comment.” Perhaps the companies will have an automated PR line, “Press one for comments on earnings, press two for comments on rumors…”

  • canardnoir

    Weren’t many newsrooms already doing this? – By using lower-paid interns and freshmen J-school grads to rewrite press release and allowing them to stamp their bylines on the finished product?

    And if that little copy-generating method didn’t “…flipped the standard content creation model on its head…” – perhaps the lack of fact checking and embedded errors, already has?