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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Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

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Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

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Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

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Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Women of color will reclaim and monetize our time

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

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

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

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Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

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Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

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

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

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

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

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

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

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

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

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

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

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

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

Burt Herman   Things get real

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

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

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

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

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

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

Paul Ford   Go global

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

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

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

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

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

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

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

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

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Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

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Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)