And so at last, writers, journalists, reporters, call us what you will, we’re being replaced by computers just like everyone else. The Thomson financial media group is using software programs to automatically generate earnings stories, within .3 of a second of the release of a company’s earnings statement. No chance of a John Henry moment there; it takes my computer longer than that just to load the page, much less for me to read and digest the information.
Reuters, too, is apparently using automatically generated pieces. Bloomberg says they’re not, but the conditions they have in their offices, and their stylebook, make the distinction a bit academic.
And so here we are. There’s propagation of information, and there’s storytelling. Newspapers and other media outlets are supported by people for whom information is a necessity. For them, the computer can do the job. Style doesn’t matter. Style and storytelling is a luxury, for people with time, like organic vegetables or free-range chickens. We shouldn’t kid ourselves about that.