Google Digital News Initiative Creating Robo Reporters

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Google’s i is shelling out more than $800,000 in grant money to automate local news writing for U.K. media agency The Press Association.

The funding will go to the creation of Radar (reporters and data and robots), a software capable of churning out roughly 30,000 local news stories a month. The grant is one of the largest to date allocated from Google’s Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund

U.K. firm Urbs Media will be responsible for creating the software that turns news data into readable articles. The goal, according to The Press Association, is to use the software to produce news articles that would not normally be covered due to the shrinking staff members in its news rooms.

In addition to supporting technical developments, the funding permits PA and Urbs Media to put in place a team of five journalists to identify, template and edit data-driven stories.

Press Association Editor-in-Chief Peter Clifton called the move a “genuine game-changer.”

“This is a hugely exciting development for PA, and we believe our partnership with Urbs Media can be a genuine game-changer for media outlets across the UK and Ireland,” Clifton said in a press release.

“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. It is a fantastic step forward for PA.”

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