Scooped by AI

“I’m not talking about computer-generated stories about earthquakes, earnings reports, or sports scores. These will be stories on your beat, written by humans who understand how to use machine learning to aid their reporting.”

In 2018, you will be scooped by a reporter using artificial intelligence.

Four years ago, ProPublica’s Scott Klein predicted “you will be scooped by a reporter who knows how to program.” And you were.

In the months ahead, some of those journo-programmers — and probably some grad students looking for strong, unique projects — will break big stories using machine learning. These will be important truths and facts invisible to humans alone.

I’m not talking about computer-generated stories about earthquakes, earnings reports, or sports scores. These will be stories on your beat, written by humans who understand how to use machine learning to aid their reporting.

It’s already happening:

  • ProPublica’s Jeremy Merrill used machine learning to detect the issues uniquely important to each member of Congress.
  • BuzzFeed News’s Peter Aldhous, Christian Stork, and Charles Seife used machine learning to identify surveillance aircraft run by the U.S. Marshals and military contractors.
  • The Atlantic’s Andrew McGill used machine learning to figure out whether Donald Trump is writing his own tweets.

Over the past year, conversations around AI and journalism often ventured into worries about artificial intelligence being deployed to replace reporters. But in the new year, we’ll be talking about how often reporters deployed artificial intelligence to land big stories.

John Keefe is a developer in the Quartz Bot Studio.

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Jim Moroney   Newspapers have to be good enough for readers to pay for

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Julia B. Chan   Looking for loyalty in all the right places

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Dan Shanoff   You down with OTT? (Yeah, DTC)

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Alan Soon   The rise of start of psychographic, micro-targeted media

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Millie Tran and Stine Bauer Dahlberg   (Hint: It’s about your brand)

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The Snapchat scenario and the risk of more closed platforms

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Errin Haines   At the ballot, it’s time to count black women

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Juleyka Lantigua   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Helen Havlak   Keywords, not publishers, power the world’s biggest feeds

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Susie Banikarim   R.I.P. Pivot to Video (2017–2017)

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Richard Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Jesse Holcomb   Information disorder, coming to a congressional district near you

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Sara M. Watson   Feeds will open up to new user-determined filters

Eric Ulken   The year local publishers get smart(er) about change

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Burt Herman   Things get real

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Aron Pilhofer   We can’t leave the business to the business side any more

Marcela Donini and Thiago Herdy   Collaboration is the way forward for Brazilian journalism

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Jake Levine   The return to now

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Paul Ford   Go global

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Tanzina Vega   It’s time for media companies to #PassTheMic

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration