Robo-Journalism

Last week the German public television featured “The Future of Work” as it’s special topic. Exploring the various facets of how paid employment and work design could look like in the future, some reports used the term “robo-journalism”. According to the reportages that I listened to in the radio, the print media uses bots to write routine news, such as weather forecasts, financial news, or pieces like “The 10 things that make Dave’s life boring”. As automation takes sway there are more and more texts that discuss the advantages and disadvantages of computerised content production in the print media. Here is a collection of some recent texts that address this aspect:

However, why do I address robot journalism here, you may ask. Well, on the one hand it represents the proliferation of automation and, hence, rationalisation of workflow in a sector that is known for the creative human capacity to search and evaluate information and to present them to the reader. By the way, to me this is a sector that seems to be similar to the work of scholars, at least in some respects. On the other hand, I think there is one under-represented issue in the current discussion, the one that machines replace humans because, as some of the above texts suggest, bots do not make mistakes, bots could relieve humans from tedious work, and bots could do the work faster and more efficient. It is the latter aspect that should deserve more attention in my opinion. I ask myself what will happen to the journalists and writers who do make mistakes? What about those journalists, who are unburdened from boring work tasks? And what about the ones, who tended to write weather forecasts in the past? Do you believe that they will keep their jobs, now just doing something else, of course, something that is more interesting and challenging within the so-called “Man-machine-Marriage? Well perhaps they will have a more challenging job, but I believe that quite a few of them will have it outside the print media…

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