News automation: The publishers’ treasure trove

We’ve been automating news since 2015 to fit with the business and journalism strategy of dozens and dozens of publishers. We have learnings to share.

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Time to bust some popular myths about robot journalism

Robot journalism as a concept has been around for some years now. The idea can inspire doubt and even dread in editors and journalists. Will the robots replace reporters, who controls them and how, can they be trusted – the questions are many. At United Robots, we and our publisher partners have worked with the reality of news automation since 2015. We see how the robot written content actually supports journalism and we think it’s time to address some of the popular myths that surround it.

How we do automated content without the heavy lifting

During INMA's recent Product and Data for Media Summit I did a short presentation on how United Robots build automated content without any heavy lifting on the part of the publisher. I thought I'd take this opportunity to do a follow up around the process of getting automated content off the ground. "This is of course a brand new process for most of our clients, but it's what we do every day," says United Robots Head of Delivery Gunnar Södergren. "Our job is to make it as easy as possible."

How we built it: Automated content without the heavy lifting

During INMA's Product and Data for Media Summit I did a short presentation on how United Robots build automated content without any heavy lifting on the part of the publisher. I thought I'd take this opportunity to do a follow up around the process of getting automated content off the ground. "This is of course a brand new process for most of our clients, but it's what we do every day," says United Robots Head of Delivery Gunnar Södergren. "Our job is to make it as easy as possible."

A growing number of publishers automate real estate coverage – here’s why

Imagine publishing an article every time a house is sold in any of the neighborhoods you cover. Complete with images and satellite maps. With robots in the newsroom, generating this volume of content is not an issue. And suddenly, you can reach individual readers in local communities with stories relevant just to them. Here, we’ll look at how this logic is helping news publishers drive journalism and business effects today.

Why and how what we do is unique

At United Robots, we see ourselves as a service provider within news automation. We design, build and support the whole chain of actions required to get it up and running continuously within an organisation.

Why volume is the real star of news automation

For the publishers we work with, there is one aspect of automated content that really stands out. One key value they leverage – namely the volume of texts the robots can produce. Time and again we see it. Media companies discovering the real benefit of news automation when they start using it to provide coverage where there previously was none. For sports e g, it means you can set up a publishing timeline (see image) for every league, every match, every reader – all generated automatically.

Only a pragmatic approach to NLG delivers reliable robot journalism

Every month we send hundreds of thousands of robot written articles to news publishers in Europe and North America. Almost all of them are published directly onto sites and apps without going through any editorial checks, so predictability is key when texts are generated. In order to ensure this reliable language quality we have developed our own flavour of Natural Language Generation, pragmatic NLG.

When robots drive inclusive journalism

Update: The Q&A function won a third place in the Best New Technology or Digital Product category of the 2020 Global Media Awards.

Talking to a BBC journalist the other day, I was laying out the drivers behind newsroom automation at Swedish local media groups. We agreed it sounds somewhat contradictory that robots now play an active role in creating journalism that involves hundreds – thousands – of people that were rarely seen in local news stories before. I was talking specifically about our Sports robot’s Q&A function, which – we’re very happy to say – has been nominated in INMA’s 2020 Global Media Awards.

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