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Is Journalism becoming automated?

I have recently read some very interesting articles and watched some factual videos on Youtube that go over the subject of online news channels and journalism. I would position myself bang in the middle of this conversation being both a journalist in varied industry sectors and also running several industry news channels.

What is being asked is if the value of journalists has now faded, if in deed the industry is becoming automated and whether current industry news channels should be looking to divert their focus / revenue streams as profits decline.

It is all about the reader in my view, the consumer and the trust and engagement you build with these people whom would be seen as a ‘target audience’ and the value behind what you do – Just how valuable is that audience you can draw to businesses looking to reach them be it from direct marketing such as emails or social media posts to sponsored content and banners plus any fees via subscriptions etc.

I watched a lively video with Lionel Nation (above) answering some questions on the topic of automated journalism and even towards robots filling in for them – ‘robot reporting’. It reports on the fact that the rise of the robots in journalism is happening, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is apparently already alive and kicking in this industry sector.

Is there no more passion and feeling behind words that are shared or is it all automated? I know for sure in that I have news channels that countless times you I be approached by companies offering to write content for me at tiny fees so we can simply populate websites with content, though in my view ‘What is the point of that as you need a writer that knows the industry, has an opinion, understand the audiences and can generate a reaction‘ – Surely robots are no where near this stage of thinking? Possibly if it is simply writing about facts then yes we could outsource to Mr and Mrs Robot somewhere…  ?

Is journalism doomed and the power is turning from the journalists themselves over to the channels they write for? Without the communication channels there would be no target audience reach for writers (some journalists have of course built their own audiences be it via a blog / social media channel etc).

Also grabbing my attention was a headline from PR Week regarding ‘online news channels’:

…there likely isn’t a sustainable business model for giving away news for free onlinePR Week

Here the article looks at online news / information channels who have recently laid off staff in order to survive ie layoffs at Buzzfeed, Vice and HuffPost. The theme is very much on how online news / info channels whom were funded by shares in the recent past are now floundering and having to create external revenue streams or make the online reading of their content exclusive to members / payers.

Times do change, though depending on how target your audience is, there will always be businesses looking to reach them. We have seen an explosion in the world of ‘influencers’ such as people with big following on social media reviewing items for payments and why should this not be the case is what I say – If you hold sizeable audiences then just like an advertisement on television looking to reach a certain age group / geographic located consumer, the likes of social media or themed channels can offer great direct marketing opportunities and rightly should be paid for.

What is the way forward?

If they say that journalism may be falling by the wayside and being replaced by automated content and influencers, will marketeers be the next one to stand beside the chopping block?


Christopher Walkey

Founder of Estate Agent Networking and an internationally invited speaker on how to build online target audiences using Twitter and LinkedIn. Writes about UK property prices, housing and affordable homes.

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