Newsreport>>Earthquake • USA

Published: Monday 30 November -0001

imageOn March 17, a mild earthquake struck California. In less than three minutes a report on the seismic event was up on the website of the Los Angeles Times. The remarkable breaking news feat was courtesy a robot writer. The paper has created an algorithm that automatically puts together a brief write-up whenever an earthquake occurs. “It does not replace the journalist, but instead allows available data to be quickly gathered and disseminated,” Ken Schwenck, journalist and the algorithm creator, told Slate. The technology draws on trusted sources, such as the US Geological Survey, and places data into a pre-written template. “A shallow magnitude 4.7 earthquake was reported Monday morning five miles from Westwood, California, according to the US Geological Survey. The tremor occurred at 6:25 am. Pacific time at a depth of 5.0 miles,” the report read.

Los Angeles Times uses another algorithm to report crime stories—with human editors deciding which ones need greater attention. “It makes journalism more interesting,” Schwenck said.

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