January 14th, 2020 • Featured
Journalism on autopilot: The upside and downside of computer-generated stories
Curt Conrad still remembers heading to bed at 4 a.m. on football Friday nights. With multiple games to cover, quotes to cull and stats to sort, football Friday inevitably led to sleepy Saturday. Not now. Conrad, a sports reporter with the all-digital Richland Source in Mansfield, Ohio, relies on automated journalism to cover brass tacks such as the final score, scoring plays by quarter, team records, basic stats and future schedules to generate game stories independently.
Anonymous sources — one of journalism’s most powerful tools — are also one of its most dangerous. Almost every journalist has received a request for anonymity. A source calls up promising a big scoop or an untold story with one condition: that his or her name not be used in the story. And sometimes that request is granted, placing the journalist and publication in the line of fire rather than the source. Granting anonymity is one of the toughest choices any reporter or editor has to make.