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.

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Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

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Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

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Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

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Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

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

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Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

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Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

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Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

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Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

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Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

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Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Richard J. Tofel   The platforms’ power demands more reporters’ attention

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

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

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

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Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

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

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

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Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

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Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

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Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

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