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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Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

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Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

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Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

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Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

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Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

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Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

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Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

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Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

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Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

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Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

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Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

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Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

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Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

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