The AP has announced that it will soon automate the writing and reporting of its corporate earnings stories.
The Associated Press is shifting its by-the-numbers business reporting to automation with a little helps from ones and zeros.
Quarterly corporate earnings reports from the AP will soon be produced through a computer program that is able to take the key numbers from companies' results to create a story of 150 to 300 words, the media company announced in a blog post.
The move puts the dry—but important—job of relating the dense earnings results of public companies into a readable format. Earnings stories are important for company transparency and accountability.
Lour Ferrara, AP managing editor, said the move allows its journalists to shift their time from churning out earning stories to providing context and investigative pieces. He also said the move would not eliminate any jobs.
"If anything, we are doubling down on the journalism we will do around earnings reports and business coverage," he said in the blog post.
"Instead, our journalists will focus on reporting and writing stories about what the numbers mean and what gets said in earnings calls on the day of the release, identifying trends and finding exclusive stories we can publish at the time of the earnings reports," he said.
To generate the stories, the AP is combining the technology from Automated Insights and Zacks Investment Research. Corporate earnings stories come out with each quarterly reports and tend to be basic write ups, particularly if the company has not under or over-performed recently. They can often be quite formulaic, with reporters keying in on the same revenue, profit and margin numbers each time.
There has been no shortage of interest in the companies behind automation technology. Automated Insight announced on Monday that it had raised $5.5 million in Series B funding.
Ferrera said the AP's template for earnings stories was developed to reflect the outlet's style and journalism standards. The system is schedule to go live in July and begin with oversight to check for quality.
The automated system will allow the AP to generate more than ten times the number of earnings reports compared to past quarters.
"And instead of providing 300 stories manually, we can provide up to 4,400 automatically for companies throughout the United States each quarter," he said.
Automation technology is no longer a rarity among tech and media companies, with companies like Amazon, Netflix, Pandora and Yahoo relying on algorithms to supply content to its millions of customers.
The AP isn't the only organization using journobots. The New York Times uses automation for some of its wedding announcements, while Automated Insights also provides recaps for fantasy football matchups. And it's not just print — there's robots for news broadcasts as well.
The AP has also been tinkering with its sports coverage, having recently moved to a shorter 300-word structure for its game stories. Ferrera said the AP is looking at using automation on "results stories for lower-audience sports."
Tags: ASSOCIATED PRESS, AUTOMATION, BUSINESS, JOURNALISM, MEDIA