Washington Post considered using robot sportswriters

The Washington Post

Last year, The Washington Post considered using automated writing to cover the region's many high-school sports, Brook Silva-Braga reports. Currently, the paper has four reporters on that beat, and deputy high school sports editor Matt McFarland estimates the paper would need "like 300" to stay on top of all prep sports in the region.

McFarland says the Post decided "for now" not to use automated writing, but "down the line it might be something that happens."

Asked by Silva-Braga if he worried about the rise of robot sportswriters, McFarland said, "If a computer can do my job better than me, I need to go somewhere else."

Silva-Braga asks Kristian Hammond of the firm Narrative Science, which provides such services, if it could compete, quality-wise with stories written by humans.

"Our stories are fantastic," Hammond says. But sportswriting is a crowded field, and "Why would we? We might make some money, but we'd make money on the backs of other people. And that's not the way we want to do business."

Related: 5 ways robots can improve accuracy, journalism quality | Journalists debate value of robots | Prepare yourself for robot editors | CIA invests in robot journalism |

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at TBD.com and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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