Robot reporters crossed with mannequins?

image Face it. Human journalists have flaws, and I don’t simply mean typos and other atrocities in print and online. Pity female reporters. Just now I read on Twitter that editors should look around the office, concede the obvious and probably assign all fashion stories to freelancers (a rather unfair gibe if you factor in staff salaries at most newspapers).

But how about robot reporters, a possibility reported by the Gizmodo blog?  “They’re supposedly able to detect anomalies in their environments to determine newsworthy items, take relevant photographs and collect quotes from bystanders. They can then synthesize all of those components into a piece and publish it directly to the web. (Apparently there’s no robo-editor?) We’ve always joked about these robot writers taking our jobs, but this new one actually has us a little scared…” Exactly. And now the ultimate city room nightmare: a robot journalist crossed with a mannequin and ever so fashionably dressed, with no human salary to pay.

Related: Google News items based on the term “robot journalists.” Speaking of hitting home…

Twisting the knife: Chris Lynch’s prediction that journalism schools may shrink or vanish (via Poynter). He wisely counsels them to focus less on techniques and more on specialties. Amen!

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David Rothman

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