Nationwide House Prices and Robotic Journalists


Posted on 2nd July 2014

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Lots of dismay among hacks yesterday when the Associated Press announced it is automating the creation of corporate earnings reports…. using ‘robots’ to write copy.

And yet this morning, we had a reminder on why the AP should get on and automate the vast majority of the breaking news agenda.

Because at the moment all the media are doing is reproducing the same content, day-in, day-out.

It’s frankly embarrassing. 

Robotic reporting

So what happened? At 7am today, the Nationwide building society published its latest house price index.

What happened next? Did we get lots of brilliantly insightful views and analysis from the UK’s journalists?

Did we bollocks.

Every article was a simple copy and paste job, where huge chunks of the release are lifted, sewn together, a bit of context given (easily automated) and stuck robotically online.

Robotically online. See where I’m going with this?

In truth, there is no need for even a robot to write up the Nationwide House Price Index.

Why don’t the Nationwide just stick their release online, tweet it, and then we all leave it at that? People can then draw their own conclusions.

Imagine that!


Now don’t get me wrong. Investigative journalists are indispensable.

But those journalists and media outlets that simply paraphrase, or copy and and paste, what is already available, are not.

The media are horrified that we are entering an era of robotic reporting.

In reality, we have been there for some time already.

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