The year of augmented writing

“The combination of AI and journalism will contribute to a more informed and efficient society by enabling journalists to conduct deep analysis, uncover corruption, and hold people and institutions accountable.”

With the extraordinary change that technology has brought to the news and information landscape, the future of news depends on journalists working alongside smart machines. The first wave of this symbiosis was news automation, where artificial intelligence systems generate written stories and alerts directly from data. The goal is not to displace journalists from their jobs — it’s about freeing up their time from labor-intensive tasks so they can do higher-order journalism.

francesco-marconiFollowing the direction set in motion by automation, the next evolution will be about leveraging smart tools that can help journalists augment their own writing. This means AI-powered interfaces capable of providing context to topics in real time and even optimizing a news report based on its dateline and subject matter.

In 2017, AI will help journalists do more investigative work by analyzing massive sets of data and pointing to relationships not easily visible to even the most experienced reporter. The combination of AI and journalism will contribute to a more informed and efficient society by enabling journalists to conduct deep analysis, uncover corruption, and hold people and institutions accountable. This evolution in journalism comes at a time when fake news seems to cast a shadow over trust in our industry.

These new tools will eventually become prevalent in most newsrooms across the world. However, we should not expect mass adoption without a fight.

Looking at the evolution of successful writing technologies from the past, we can see a very specific cycle emerge, and how long it takes to develop. The first phase is uncertainty; when a new writing technology begins to enter mainstream society, there’s hesitancy to adopt it.

In fact, when the first writing technology was introduced — the act of writing itself on paper — Greek philosopher Socrates argued that “the written word is the enemy of memory.” Centuries later, with the introduction of the printing press, Johannes Trithemius, a prolific German cryptographer, worried that the new technology would make monks responsible for transcribing religious books lazy.

Later on, the world witnessed similar resistance to innovation with the introduction of the typewriter and even the word processor in the computers we use today. The transition to augmented writing, where smart machines help journalists create better content, will likely encounter the same barriers to innovation.

Despite promising advances in artificial intelligence, we still know very little about the ethical implications of news augmented by machine learning. While it is clear the integration of machine learning, cognitive analysis and big data will revolutionize multiple aspects of the world, careful consideration is required when extrapolating its benefits to journalism.

As A.I. and cognitive computing quickly evolve, it will be crucial in 2017 for the industry to consider the tradeoffs that will come from increased efficiency and productivity.

Francesco Marconi is manager of strategy and development at the Associated Press.

Doris Truong   Connecting with diverse perspectives

Gabriel Snyder   The aberration of 20th-century journalism

Erin Millar   The bottom falls out of Canadian media

Javaun Moradi   What can we own?

Mandy Velez   The audience is the source and the story

S.P. Sullivan   Baking transparency into our routines

Emi Kolawole   From empathy to community

Mary Meehan   Feeling blue in a red state

Reyhan Harmanci   Bear witness — but then what?

Emily Goligoski   Incorporating audience feedback at scale

Francesco Marconi   The year of augmented writing

Jon Slade   Trusted news, at a premium

Aja Bogdanoff   Comments start pulling their weight

Laura Walker   Authentic voices, not fake news

Zizi Papacharissi   Distracted journalism looks in the mirror

Guy Raz   Inspiration and hope will matter more than ever

Mary Walter-Brown   Getting comfortable asking for money

Margarita Noriega   From pinning tweets to tweeting pins

Bill Adair   The year of the fact-checking bot

Rebekah Monson   Journalism is community-as-a-service

Dan Gillmor   Fix the demand side of news too

Scott Dodd   Nonprofits team up for impact

Trushar Barot   API or die

Helen Havlak   Chasing mobile search results

Almar Latour   Thanks, #fakenews

Juan Luis Sánchez   Your predictions are our present

Carrie Brown-Smith   We won’t do enough

Liz McMillen   The year of deep insights

Ole Reißmann   Un-faking the news

Tim Griggs   The year we stop taking sides

Erin Pettigrew   A year of reflection in tech

Corey Ford   The year of the rebelpreneur

Rubina Madan Fillion   Snapchat grows up

Tracie Powell   Building reader relationships

Michael Kuntz   Trust is the new click

Coleen O'Lear   Back to basics

Matt Karolian   AI improves publishing

Mark Armstrong   Time to pay up

Michael Oreskes   Reversing the erosion of democracy

Nathalie Malinarich   Making it easy

Christopher Meighan   Unlocking a deeper mobile experience

Pablo Boczkowski   Fake news and the future of journalism

Jeremy Barr   A terrible year for Tiers B through D

Mathew Ingram   The Faustian Facebook dance continues

Renée Kaplan   Pure reach has reached its limit

Richard J. Tofel   The country doesn’t trust us — but they do believe us

Juliette De Maeyer and Dominique Trudel   A rebirth of populist journalism

Dhiya Kuriakose   The year of digital detoxing

Jonathan Stray   A boom in responsible conservative media

Annemarie Dooling   UGC as a path out of the bubble

Matt Waite   The people running the media are the problem

Amy Webb   Journalism as a service

David Skok   What lies beyond paywalls

Melody Kramer   Radically rethinking design

Laura E. Davis   Show your work

Anita Zielina   The sales funnel reaches (and changes) the newsroom

Kawandeep Virdee   Moving deeper than the machine of clicks

Mira Lowe   News literacy, bias, and “Hamilton”

Molly de Aguiar   Philanthropists galvanize around news

Tanya Cordrey   The resurgence of reach

Sarah Wolozin   Virtual reality on the open web

Millie Tran   International expansion without colonial overtones

Keren Goldshlager   Defining a focus, and then saying no

Sam Ford   The year we talk about our awful metrics

Hillary Frey   Forests need to burn to regrow

Ken Schwencke   Disaggregation and collection

Amie Ferris-Rotman   Вслед за Россией

Alexis Lloyd   Public trust for private realities

Burt Herman   Local news gets interesting

Peter Sterne   A dangerous anti-press mix

David Chavern   Fake news gets solved

Lam Thuy Vo   The primary source in the age of mechanical multiplication

Felix Salmon   Headlines matter

Mike Ragsdale   A smarter information diet

Lee Glendinning   A call for great editing

Ståle Grut   The battle for high-quality VR

Asma Khalid   The year of the newsy podcast

Megan H. Chan   Cultural reporting goes mainstream

Steve Henn   The next revolution is voice

Alice Antheaume   A new test for French media

Ryan McCarthy   Platforms grow up or grow more toxic

Bill Keller   A healthy skepticism about data

Ashley C. Woods   Local journalism will fight a new fight

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Truthiness in private spaces

Moreno Cruz Osório   The year of transparency in Brazilian journalism

Rachel Schallom   Stop flying over the flyover states

Dan Colarusso   Let’s make live video we can love

Ray Soto   VR moves from experiments to immersion

Katie Zhu   The year of minority media

Andrew Losowsky   Building our own communities

P. Kim Bui   The year journalism teaches again

Swati Sharma   Failing diversity is failing journalism

Cory Haik   Navigating power in Trump’s America

Dannagal G. Young   The return of the gatekeepers

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting stratifies into hard layers

Julia Beizer   Building a coherent core identity

Alberto Cairo   Communicating uncertainty to our readers

Andrew Ramsammy   Rise of the rebel journalist

Tim Herrera   The safe space of service journalism

M. Scott Havens   Quality advertising to pair with quality content

An Xiao Mina   2017 is for the attention innovators

Olivia Ma   The year collaboration beats competition

Elizabeth Jensen   Trust depends on the details

Umbreen Bhatti   A sense of journalists’ humanity

Samantha Barry   Messaging apps go mainstream

Joanne Lipman   The year of the drone, really

Jim Friedlich   A banner year for venture philanthropy

Adam Thomas   The coming collaboration across Europe

Andy Rossback   The year of the user

Sara M. Watson   There is no neutral interface

Cindy Royal   Preparing the digital educator-scholar hybrid

Claire Wardle   Verification takes center stage

Robert Hernandez   History will exclude you, again

Geetika Rudra   Journalism is community

Taylor Lorenz   “Selfie journalism” becomes a thing

Errin Haines Whack   Chaos or community?

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   News after advertising may look like news before advertising

Caitlin Thompson   High touch, high value

Rachel Sklar   Women are going to get loud

Nicholas Quah   Podcasting’s coming class war

Tressie McMillan Cottom   A path through the media’s coming legitimacy crisis

Sydette Harry   Facing journalism’s history

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Earn trust by working for (and with) readers

Priya Ganapati   Mobile websites are ready for reinvention

Mario Garcia   Virtual reality on mobile leaps forward

Liz Danzico   The triumph of the small

Nushin Rashidian   A rise in high-price, high-value subscriptions

Vivian Schiller   Tested like never before

Andrew Haeg   The year of listening

Sue Schardt   Objectivity, fairness, balance, and love

Andrea Silenzi   Podcasts dive into breaking news analysis

Amy O'Leary   Not just covering communities, reaching them

Kathleen Kingsbury   Print as a premium offering

Libby Bawcombe   Kids board the podcast train

Maria Bustillos   “It’s true — I saw it on Facebook”

David Weigel   A test for online speech

Sarah Marshall   Focusing on the why of the click

Ariane Bernard   Better data about your users

Jonathan Hunt   Measurement companies get with the times

Carla Zanoni   Prioritizing emotional health