UK News Agency Wins Grant For Robot Reporters

London (PTI): One of Britain’s leading news agencies has won a 622,000-pound Google grant to run a news service with robot-aided reporters churning out thousands of localised stories monthly, said to be a “game changer” for media outlets.

Press Association (PA), which supplies news to outlets in the UK and Ireland, has teamed up with data-driven news start-up Urbs Media for the robot journalism project which will use five reporters to produce 30,000 stories a month for local media.

PA and Urbs Media will set up Reporters And Data And Robots (RADAR) to produce thousands of stories each month.

The grant won by PA comes from the search engine giant’s Digital News Initiative (DNI), which is aimed at supporting innovation in European digital journalism.

“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process but Radar allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually, said Pete Clifton, editor- in-chief at PA.

“At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, Radar will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account,” he said.

The five human reporters will use open government and local authority databases and story templates to automate stories about health, crime, employment and other subjects.

The scheme is likely to begin early next year, as PA celebrates its 150th anniversary.

Clifton said it was “a hugely exciting development for PA” that would be “a genuine game-changer for media outlets across the UK and Ireland”.

PA and Urbs Media are making a workflow plan to generate the large volume of stories for clients.

The grant will also be used to make database tools to collect and combine datasets and “editorial intelligence” will guide the automation process.

RADAR will auto-generate graphics, video and pictures to add to stories.

Money will also be used to boost PA s distribution platforms to help its local customers find and use the content.