According to Reuters, we are heading for a Cybernetic Newsroom: an editorial room where robots and journalists reinforce each other. A view that Jorge Alves Lino, Fontys Lector Media, Interaction and Narration, fully endorses. In the study De Automatische Nieuwsredactie (The Automated Newsroom), Alves Lino worked together with Tilburg University and De Persgroep over the past four years on the robot journalism system PASS, which allows automatic football reports to be produced.

The four-year research project PASS focuses primarily on football journalism. “Hundreds of amateur games are played every week. Journalists can barely report on all of them, while news consumers do need frequent updates. Our system can support this,” says Alves Lino. The Personalised Automated Soccer System (PASS) can process the data from matches into an easily readable text. “This makes PASS a welcome addition for the editorial staff.”

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PASS: Personalised Automated Soccer Text System (English) from Jorge Alves Lino on Vimeo.

Professor Dr Emiel Krahmer from Tilburg University also sees a growing interest in robot journalism. “The rise of automated text systems is definitely a great opportunity to get away from the boring stuff and spend more time on the interesting topics we want to find out about. From day one, future journalists should learn about the problems and opportunities that exist in the field of automated newsrooms and robot journalism.”

Moreover, according to Alves Lino, thinking about robot journalism is slowly changing. “Where for a long time fear prevailed that robots would take over the journalistic work, we now see that more and more editors are exploring the possibilities of automatic text systems.”

According to the lecturer, it is crucial that journalists play a role in the development and implementation of these systems. Only if they are able to work with them properly and see their added value, will this be a success. In the development of PASS, journalists from De Persgroep have therefore cooperated in the development and improvement of the system from the very beginning.

Finally, news consumers have also played a role in the study. Alves Lino: “Do readers want text written by automatic systems? Do they find that reliable? We soon found out that context is extremely important. You can’t just produce articles based on raw data, that’s too ‘robotic’. People want to know if it was a nice day at a football match, what kind of atmosphere was in the stadium and how the audience reacted to striking events. In order to incorporate this into the robot journalist’s messages, we are developing a chatbot that can provide additional information. Of course, the journalists of De Persgroep are also involved in this. After all, they are the protagonists in the future cybernetic newsroom.”

Jorge Alves Lino and Emiel Krahmer will present PASS at the Beyond Media conference on 21 November in the LocHal in Tilburg. The entire programme can be found on the Beyond Media website.

We can give away five free tickets by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. The first five entries will be returned with a ticket by e-mail.