Futures Lab Update #142: Enlisting Product Managers and Automating More Complex Stories

    by Reuben Stern
    March 3, 2016
    A screenshot from this week's Futures Lab Update video.

    This story first appeared on RJI’s Futures Lab. Reporting by Katy Mersmann and Berkeley Lovelace.

    This week we explore the role of product mangers within news organizations, and we find out how more complex stories might be written by computers.


    PART 1: Product Managers for News

    Borrowing from the tech and business worlds, several large news organizations have integrated the role of product manager into their workflows. The result can bring new thinking about how to serve an intended audience. We find out how product managers are shaping things at Vox Media and The Washington Post.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    PART 2: The Next Step in Automated Stories

    One day, computer systems might be able to automatically generate text articles not only about numerical data but also about politics and breaking news. We take a look at how that might happen.
    [To skip directly to this segment in YouTube, click here.]

    For more information:


    As Poynter reports, Automated Insights opened its Wordsmith platform for self-service use in October 2015. That means companies can use the system to create their own story automations rather than having Automated Insights do the custom implementation.

    The co-founder of Chicago-based Narrative Science told the Guardian that he thinks a computer-written story could win a Pulitzer prize within the next five years. The story also says he predicts “90% of journalism will be written by computer by 2030.”

    RJI Fellow David Caswell is developing a platform that would enable structured story information to be automatically reconfigured into things like bulleted lists, timelines, or narrative text. You’ll find more information here about his project.

    Reuben Stern is the deputy director of the Futures Lab at the Reynolds Journalism Institute and host and co-producer of the weekly Futures Lab video update.

    RJI Futures Lab web banner

    The Reynolds Journalism Institute’s Futures Lab video update features a roundup of fresh ideas, techniques and developments to help spark innovation and change in newsrooms across all media platforms. Visit the RJI website for the full archive of Futures Lab videos, or download the receive email notification of each new episode.

    Tagged: algorithms Automated journalism berkeley lovelace katy mersmann product management reuben stern rji rji futures lab vox media washington post

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