Your writing always seemed a little mechanical…

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.

3 Comments

  1. Did any of you reporters/journalist/writers really want to write stories about company earnings anyway? In fact, that wasn’t ever really a “story,” was it– maybe more just a tight grouping of facts with a very quick expiry date. The good thing about it was that one could be paid to do such a thing and still be called a writer. or be writing on the side. or pretending to write.

  2. You should check out “The Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink. In the age of abundance, automation and outsourcing, context (stories) take on a greater meaning.

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