Key Questions and Implications

For journalists

  • Human and automated journalism will likely become closely integrated and form a “man-machine marriage.”

  • Journalists are best advised to develop skills that algorithms cannot perform, such as in-depth analysis, interviewing, and investigative reporting.

  • Automated journalism will likely replace journalists who merely cover routine topics, but will also generate new jobs within the development of news-generating algorithms.

For news consumers

  • People rate automated news as more credible than human-written news but do not particularly enjoy reading automated content.

  • Automated news is currently most suited for topics where providing facts in a quick and efficient way is more important than sophisticated narration, or where news did not exist previously and consumers thus have low expectations regarding the quality of the writing.

  • Little is known about news consumers’ demand for algorithmic transparency, such as whether they need (or want) to understand how algorithms work.

For news organizations

  • Since algorithms cannot be held accountable for errors, liability for automated content will rest with a natural person (e.g., the journalist or the publisher).

  • Algorithmic transparency and accountability will become critical when errors occur, in particular when covering controversial topics and/or personalizing news.

  • Apart from basic guidelines that news organizations should follow when automatically generating news, little is known about which information should be made transparent regarding how the algorithms work.

For society

  • Automated journalism will substantially increase the amount of available news, which will further increase people’s burden to find content that is most relevant to them.

  • An increase in automated—and, in particular, personalized—news is likely to reemphasize concerns about potential fragmentation of public opinion.

  • Little is known about potential implications for democracy if algorithms are to take over part of journalism’s role as a watchdog for government.