The year of machine-to-machine journalism

“Search and social helped tailor information choices to individuals to a degree by leveraging content recommendation technology. But what happens when the content itself can be created, processed, and distributed through algorithms?”

Machines, not humans, will become the biggest consumers of news in 2018. This shift will be driven by the growing impact of smart devices and the internet of things in the information ecosystem.

When two machines speak to each other, they speak in a language of categorization — a taxonomy. Words are organized into categories, which then trigger an output. In machine-to-machine journalism, this output (a story or other piece of news content) from one machine is then interpreted by a second machine before it reaches its final audience.

For example, one machine can create stories out of data, send that story to a second machine, which then personalizes that story and only then disseminates it to a human. But machine-to-machine journalism can also achieve tangible outcomes beyond informing individual news consumers. For example, an automated financial story about stocks can change another machine’s investment patterns, or an AI lawyer can assess how libelous an automated article can be across different jurisdictions.

Journalists will need to examine how these machines speak to each other and how they develop connection with one another — perhaps even emotional ones.

But replicating human judgment in language is not an inevitable technological advance. Machine-to-machine journalism will be confronted with the challenge of replicating a kind of “journalistic intuition” merely through data points. This is particularly difficult, because humans have a very complex and adaptive way of assessing value judgments in one another’s speech. In other words, when two people speak, each has an intrinsic barometer that assesses the relative value of the words the other party is using against a standard that you perceive him or her to have. For example, when someone who tends to exaggerate describes something as “revolutionary,” the word has a different relative value than when somebody uses it who is rarely impressed. And as relationships develop, humans gain an increasingly nuanced understanding into one another’s speech value judgments. It remains a question whether a journalistic intuition can be developed using existing data points as an input.

The proliferation of smart devices in 2018 will quickly generate demand for “smart content” — news tailored to a specific individual or use case, and personalized with a specific editorial style. And the way that two or more smart machines can speak to one another through stories presents new opportunities and challenges — it can generate higher engagement but could also lead to information asymmetries.

Today, most people find information via search or social, and while these two channels are radically different in functionality, they have one thing in common —  any given article surfaced through these platforms is exactly the same for everyone in the world.

For example, an article entitled “Legionnaires’ disease outbreak looms over southern California” reads the same to me, a 31-year-old male living in New York City, and for a mother of two in her early 40’s residing in San Diego.

Content today is one-size-fits-all. And why wouldn’t it be? A journalist writes a story hoping to reach as many people as possible.

Search and social helped tailor information choices to individuals to a degree by leveraging content recommendation technology. But what happens when the content itself can be created, processed, and distributed through algorithms (the smart machines) that analyze readers’ locations, social media posts and other publicly available data? News consumers could then be served content through a smart device, tailored to their personality, mood, and socioeconomic status, among other things — infinite versions of the same story. True personalization drives higher consumption, but without editorial guidelines and well defined journalistic standards, could also create siloed views of the same reality.

When machine-to-machine journalism becomes a prevalent way to produce, process, and distribute content, then those algorithms will start falling under the purview of journalists. Just as it’s important to verify a source’s reliability, it will become crucial to consider the reliability of smart machines.

Francesco Marconi is strategy manager and AI co-lead at The Associated Press.

Mary Walter-Brown   Show a little vulnerability

Will Sommer   The year local media gets conservative

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

Monique Judge   Letting black women tell their own stories

Julia Beizer   A longer view on the pivot

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

Joanne McNeil   Gatekeeping the gatekeepers

Rubina Madan Fillion   Unlocking the potential of AI

Raney Aronson-Rath   Transparency is the antidote to fake news

Tracie Powell   The muting of underserved voices

Alexios Mantzarlis   Moving fake news research out of the lab

Vivian Schiller   Pivot to tomorrow

Sue Schardt   Jump the niche

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

Christopher Meighan   Passive partnership is in the rearview

Rodney Gibbs   Tech workers turn to journalism

Yvonne Leow   The rise of video messaging

Rodney Benson   Better, less read, and less trusted

Tim Carmody   Watch out for Spotify

Evie Nagy   Pivot to mobile video frustration

Hannah Cassius   The year of the echo-chamber escapists

Rick Berke   Value is the watchword

Carlos Martínez de la Serna   The new journalism commons

Trushar Barot   The Jio-fication of India

Ruth Palmer   Risks will grow for news subjects — especially minorities

Nathalie Malinarich   Peak push

Doris Truong   Computer vision vs. the Internet vigilantes

Pablo Boczkowski   The rise of skeptical reading

Juliette De Maeyer   A responsible press criticism

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

Tamar Charney   We get serious about algorithms

Dheerja Kaur   Fun with subscription products

Renée Kaplan   The year of quiet adjustments (shhh)

Lucas Graves   From algorithms to institutions

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

Nicholas Quah   Stop talking trash about young people

Alfred Hermida   Going beyond mobile-first

Dannagal G. Young   Stop covering politics as a game

Brian Lam   Sketchy ethics around product reviews

Michael Kuntz   The only pivot that might work

Rachel Schallom   Better design helps differentiate opinion and news

Cristina Wilson   The year of the Instagram Story

Laura E. Davis   Writing answers before you know the question

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

L. Gordon Crovitz   Serving readers over advertisers

Miguel Castro   The arrival of the impact producer

Kelsey Proud   No, no, no

Borja Echevarría   TV goes digital, digital goes TV

Valérie Bélair-Gagnon   Seeking trust in fragmented spaces

Kawandeep Virdee   Zines had it right all along

Mario García   Storytelling finally adapts to mobile

Andrew Losowsky   The year of resilience

Pete Brown   Push alerts, personalized

Almar Latour   Conquering calm

Caitlin Thompson   Podcasting models mature and diversify

Mike Caulfield   Refactoring media literacy for the networked age

Matt Carlson   Attacks on the press will get worse

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

Francesco Marconi   The year of machine-to-machine journalism

Hossein Derakhshan   Television has won

Jessica Parker Gilbert   Design connects storytelling and strategy

David Skok   Finding an information-life balance

Joanne Lipman   Journalists inventing revenue streams

Mi-Ai Parrish   Blockchain and trust

Nushin Rashidian   Publishers seek ad dollar alternatives

Jared Newman   Venture funding and digital news don’t mix

Dan Newman   A return to trust

Nicholas Diakopoulos   Fortifying social media from automated inauthenticity

Jennifer Brandel and Mónica Guzmán   The editorial meeting of the future

Jarrod Dicker   Honesty in advertising

Luke O'Neil   The end is already here

Niketa Patel   Live journalism comes of age

Zizi Papacharissi   Women come back

Edward Roussel   Eyes, ears, and brains

Imaeyen Ibanga   Longform video leads the way

Ray Soto   VR reaches the next level

Sam Ford   The year of investing in processes

Mariano Blejman   News games rule

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

Jennifer Choi   Standing up for us and for each other

Jamie Mottram   From pageviews to t-shirts

Michelle Garcia   Navigating journalistic transparency

Emily Goligoski   Looking beyond news for inspiration

Daniel Trielli   The rich get richer, the poor scramble

Taylor Lorenz   Social and media will split

Vanessa K. DeLuca   Women’s voices take center stage

Matt Thompson   Here come the attention managers

Corey Johnson   The pro-fact resistance

Pia Frey   Address users as individuals

Ariana Tobin   Too tired to tap

Kyle Ellis   Let’s build our way out of this

Mariana Moura Santos   Think local, act global

Debra Adams Simmons   And a woman shall lead them

Mandy Velez   texting is lit rn, fam

Matt DeRienzo   A recession, then a collapse

Mira Lowe   The year of the local watchdog

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

Amy Webb   Listen to weak signals

Jacqui Cheng   Retailers move into content

Jake Levine   The return to now

Umbreen Bhatti   The trust problem isn’t new

Ståle Grut   Reclaiming audience interaction from social networks

Amie Ferris-Rotman   More female reporters abroad (please)

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Publishing less to give readers more

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   Skepticism and narcissism

Damon Krukowski   Reviving the alt-weekly soul

Mary Meehan   Real lives are at stake in rural areas

Alice Antheaume   Are you fluent in AI?

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

P. Kim Bui   The reckoning is only beginning

Felix Salmon   Covering bitcoin while owning bitcoin

Federica Cherubini   The rise of bridge roles in news organizations

Frédéric Filloux   External forces

Cory Haik   Suffering from realness, pivoting to impact

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

Jassim Ahmad   Thriving on change

Adam Thomas   Sharing is caring: The year of the mentor

Tanya Cordrey   Finally, the seeds of radical reinvention

Michelle Ferrier   The year of the great reckoning

Jennifer Coogan   The future is female

Kim Fox   Audience teams diversify their approach

Charo Henríquez   Training is an investment, not an expense

Nancy Watzman   Know thy TV

Caitria O'Neill   The new court of public opinion

Emma Carew Grovum   Newsroom culture becomes a priority

Jim Brady   With the people, not just of the people

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

Cindy Royal   Your journalism curriculum is obsolete

Raju Narisetti   Mirror, mirror on the wall

Monika Bauerlein   The firehose of falsehood

Bill Keller   A growing turn to philanthropy

Sally Lehrman   Trust comes first

Corey Ford   The empire strikes back

Neha Gandhi   Filler killers

Lanre Akinola   Making noise is not a strategy

Carrie Brown-Smith   Transparency finally takes off

Lam Thuy Vo   Breaking free from the tyranny of the loudest

Craig Newmark   Working together toward sustainable solutions

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

Amy King   Let’s amplify visual voice

Heather Bryant   Building the ecosystems for collaboration

S. Mitra Kalita   The arc of news and audience

Kathleen McElroy   Building a news video experience native to mobile

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

Steve Grove   The midterms are an opportunity

Feli Sánchez   The year for guerrilla user research

An Xiao Mina   Memes and visuals come to the fore

Basile Simon   We need better career paths for news nerds

Marie Gilot   No assholes allowed

Joyce Barnathan   It will be harder to bury the news

Andrew Haeg   The year journalists become relationship builders

José Zamora   Revenue-first journalism

Justin Kosslyn   The year journalists become digital security experts

Burt Herman   Things get real

John Keefe   Scooped by AI

Sydette Harry   Listen to your corner and watch for the hook

Matt Boggie   The intellectual equivalent of the Dead Sea

Paul Ford   Go global

Usha Sahay   Wallets get opened

Manoush Zomorodi   Self-help as a publishing strategy

Rachel Davis Mersey   AI, with real smarts

Elizabeth Jensen   Show your work

Nikki Usher   The year of The Washington Post

Sarah Marshall   Loyalty as the key performance indicator

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The year ownership mattered

Kinsey Wilson   Facebook and Google: Help out or pay up

C.W. Anderson   The social media apocalypse

Molly de Aguiar   Good journalism won’t be enough

Claire Wardle   Disinformation gets worse

Kristen Muller   The year of the voter

Eric Nuzum   Beyond the narrative arc

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

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

Alastair Coote   The year of self-improvement

Sam Sanders   Shine the light on ourselves