So, never another Watergate?
Or any of the other courageous press outings that dared to speak truth to power.
Google has today awarded €706,000 ($800,000) to the UK’s Press Association to develop robot reporters that can crank out 30,000 articles a month for local newspapers and bloggers. The cash injection is part of the advertising goliath's €150m Digital News Initiative, a three-year program that allegedly supports European …
Dude, Obama just perverted the US Intelligence community to find dirt on political enemies during an election, and you're still stuck on something much less criminal that happened half a century ago? And frankly, I don't see how a bot could perform any worse than our current crop of "journalists."
I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you over the sound of the FBI stabbing Hillary in the back, then getting itself stabbed in the back, by the guy who blocked the US from his meeting with Russia, and wants obviously-needed investigations into his Russian-contacting people dropped..
Johannes Magnus, you are partly right, in that Obama refrained from asking the FBI to look at growing proofs that the Russians had their fingers all over US election data and processes because he didn't want to appear to be meddling in an election. That lack of spine has resulted in the body-blow the USA has now received.
Now, personally, I was all for Trump, because I hoped he would weaken the USA and make it a laughing-stock around the world, thus diminishing it from 'top world power' to 'that crazy place that doesn't know its ass from its elbow' and so lead to a new balance of power. Sadly, that is not happening quickly enough, but I still have hopes for a Trump Administration meltdown.
I work in the industry, and that kind of reporting is going by the wayside as publishers struggle to make ends meet - there are only so many adverts you can cram onto a page (although we'll always try to find new and interesting ways to do it), there are only so many people you can persuade to pay for a website, and there are only so many people who pay to put an advert in the paper. Proper investigative journalism is risky, time consuming and therefore expensive when you could just pay your journos to churn out crap clickbait headlines which actually earn fairly well. There are exceptions, but the industry is definitely contracting and will continue to shrink. The office I work in went from 200+ staff and a busy editorial department to less than 70 people (and that's with centralising IT to this building because it was emptying out).
Forgive my nievety , but i think news shouldnt be coloured with feelings and views . hey ho.
I'd be interested to know how a news bot works. Whenever I've written a "program" it highly depended on me knowing how to perform the task being programmed. I have no idea how to gather news . But the techniques im guessing at really couldnt be automated.
Unless it just involves "scraping" other sites , and possibly re wording?
"Forgive my nievety , but i think news shouldnt be coloured with feelings and views . hey ho."
I am unsure as to what you mean by "news" then?
Maybe it's a left/right pondian thing. I know the USA has a special place for journalists, as long as they pretend to be impartial. But it is inherent that publishing *any* story has to have involved some feelings and views. Otherwise you just have an endless stream of mainly pointless facts. I can see something like the shipping forecast to be like this, but deciding which n stories should appear (or not) in a publication, and what prominence should be placed for each one is a decision in which the editor is making their own opinions known.
If you have had the joy of attending a court case, you might discover that there are *many* different versions of the the "truth", that the same set of facts can be interpreted completely differently depending upon presentation or personal views, and that an awful lot of people make their minds up based on emotion then justify it using reasoning.
Once you accept that there is no total impartiality, that there is always a motivation behind anything being published, that you should always ask "what is the motivation of the author?" and for the press in particular, "what is the editorial position for this publication?" since that will mainly determine what facts are presented and which are not.
As for the news bot, I thought that's what most journo's where stuck doing these days anyway. Don't toe the line, and no more comments for you. Don't bother re-writing the press release, just copy paste. Run this segment from corporate. Read this opinion piece from auto-cue, because the station owners do/don't want $THING to happen.
GoogleNewsReporter could probably have even scooped most of the UKs biggest scandals by scraping/scanning back issues Private Eye, although this is no doubt straight out of "investigate journalism for gruanaid journos".
But it is inherent that publishing *any* story has to have involved some feelings and views.
Which people are generally happy with.
However when somebody has an agenda and then twists all news reporting to fit within this agenda, then this becomes propaganda and not news. Being caught doing this is why trust in journalists has dropped below that of politicians and used car salesmen.
"However when somebody has an agenda and then twists all news reporting to fit within this agenda, then this becomes propaganda and not news."
The difference between having an opinion and an agenda is what exactly then? It sounds awfully like opinions are things that you agree with, and agendas for what you don't. :)
Edited media outlets ALWAYS have an agenda. People do not own newspapers, radio and TV stations in order for shits and giggles, they own them because they can exert an influence.
There also seems to be a lot of confusion between the role of journalists and editors, and the reasons to distrust both.
Journalists, in general, try to gather as much provable information as possible (the facts as such), along with people's opinions. You shouldn't trust them when they are talking to you because they will record *everything* you say, and your statements will almost always be used out of context. There is no off the record, if you don't want them to know something, don't tell them. Between leading questions and posing impossible options like "should we adopt sharia law, or summarily execute all Muslims?" then only reporting the answer (Governor Bob says we should adopt sharia law!!!!!) avoiding being set up can be tricky. On the other hand, many journalists don't actually bother fishing for specific topics, and are happy to wash their hands of the facts to opinions part of making the sausage.
Editors are the ones who the public should fear. They are expected to take a full and impartial reporting, then produce something that conforms to what the owner wants, what the readers want and is legal. In about that order. There are plentiful examples of editors taking a hacks output and with some highly selective editing can completely reverse what was being said. Some will even do it just to fuck with the journalist, and remind them that they are not paid for their opinions, so if they keep pushing pro-x copy, then their copy will be mauled until it's anti-x, and then published under their byline.
"Being caught doing this is why trust in journalists has dropped below that of politicians and used car salesmen."
Not even close. There is no country (that gets surveyed) where politicians are more trusted than the journalists. In fact, there are no countries where any profession is trusted less than politicians. Mayors are considered a separate type of politicians in these surveys, for what that's worth.
The sort of journalism that flourished around, say, 1776 and onward was foul-mouthed vituperative and libellous. And yet the Founders supported a free press and even enshrined a free press in the founding documents of the USA. Journalists don't have to be impartial about issues, but they do have to be honest and accurate about facts. So they must report the facts and then they can go to town on interpreting them.
It's a larger problem than Google - the system *used* to require cleared and maintained paths to deliver data between places, as collecting, cleaning and distributing information was too costly and time consuming for an individual. Groups would band together to push through together.
Now, any old hamster can stick up a shiny website and be just as accessible as any other data source, including the professionally grown ones. The entire system has switched bottleneck from pushing data out, to pulling viewers in. The giants are now straws in hayfield. The zeitgeist is free, and flowing downhill..
Google is probably just after a clean fact/event broadcast system - that would match their mentality. Anything more complex is just a muckspreader. I have no idea how journalists will survive in a world where bots, fakes and frauds massively outnumber them and nobody wants to pay anything for their products.
Looking through that list I'm heartened by the inclusion of "Dennis Publishing, owner of various computing titles and other rags – €160,000". Dennis also publish Viz Comic. Frankly they have some of the highest journalistic integrity in the press today because they actually admit all their articles are completely made up.
"Our source, an outright and habitual liar, made the sensational claims that <famous celebrity> decided to have sex with a goat. "He just waded into a farm yard, grabbed the goat and got down to the business right there", he lied through his teeth, before continuing with more completely made up claims."
I avoid reading my local publications except when I'm looking to get traffic news, anything else I can get from third parties. Over here in the U.S. the local news outlets have already been acquired by big names like Gannett, and are regularly publishing algo-derived news.
Besides that, the juiciest stories on the 'net are typically published on image/story sharing sites like 4chan, Reddit, Twitter, etc. It's not just the conflicts of interest that are driving people away from established news outlets; even the truthful articles are typically uninformative and pointless.
I know everyone likes to sound the alarms on a good Orwellian nightmare, but the masterful plans of these multinational conglomerates can just as easily fall apart when we stop believing in their institutions.
It'll be nice when they finish those cars that can drive you home from the pub though
By the time Google et al get anywhere near competently self driving cars, there won't be any pubs left open. They'll all have shut down because they either aren't profitable at all, or because they are profitable, but there's far more instant money in selling the freehold to a property developer for housing.
I was referring to the Murdoch/Lebedev/Google types with their friends in the revolving door of party politics. and outside directorships ( or editorships!). People who share a vested interest in attacking the BBC (and even ITN). But putting the usual suspects on the BBC board etc is also an act by the politicians of one kind or another to protect their own vested interests and do favours for friends.
"Friends in low places? The BBC?
I knew Agius was Chairman of the Board at Barclays (at least till the LIBOR shot hot the fan, when he was instead retained as a 'consultant'). I knew he was a long term member of the BBC board. I knew Barclays shareholders saw his role at the BBC as a conflict of interest. I didn't know Agius was on the board at Bilderberg.
And I still don't know quite what your point was - is it just me?
Still, enjoy this while you're waiting:
The point was that the BBC is just as bad as Murdoch, I took the friends in low places to mean that they didn't have friends in the same circles as murdoch et al when clearly they do which then leads me to impartiality which does not exist.
If I'm being critical I would say that nearly all media is corrupt in some way and once you scratch the surface it's there to see for all.
I mean if you really wanted to get all tin foil hatty you could then ask about his wife but then you're getting into the whole economics and money stuff which I'm still uncertain as to what's the real story.
"That would require a very strong pound, so strong in fact we could afford to print enough money to devalue the pound and give everyone £500k as a freebie"
Didn't we do that already? You remember, when every man woman and child in the UK agreed* that we should print an extra 40 grand each, and then we'd all generously give it to the banks, so they could continue being the safe and stable repositories we know and love.
Then we also agreed* to cut down all our flagrant spending on things like a welfare state, care for the elderly and various other niceties, while ensuring we could still invade at least a small country, and continue to rent some nukes from the yanks.
* via our elected representatives
Yeah, I do remember that - still have no idea where the money *actually* went. Directorships probably.
I'm talking about giving it to people who can *spend* it, or even pay off their debts so that they are paying less interest and therefore have more money left over to spend every month*.
*You know you're an alien when you don't have any debt (apart from the mortgage, which is a bastard to be honest).
"Yeah, I do remember that - still have no idea where the money *actually* went. Directorships probably."
Broadly speaking, part of it went into covering gambling, sorry speculation, debts incurred by the investment arms of the banks, which when you're leveraged at 25-1 on paper and 50-1 in reality is very easy to do when something goes wrong in the casino.
The bigger part went into the banks coffers, so that they could meet various Basel (3 IIRC) regulations about not being so over leveraged that any market movement they are on the wrong side of could wipe them out.
So of the 40k you loaned the banks, about 2k went on covering bad debts, about 16k has been repaid with minimal interest, and 22k went into their deposit account.
Personally I don't why it's OK to do all the crappy parts about nationalisation without actually owning the companies or running them better. But then again, that's been the railway policy in the UK for a while. BR cost significantly less than the current deal (30% ish), was marginally worse, and directly answerable to the politicians (as much as the civil service ever is).
As for debt, never had a mortgage, and ideally never will. But I did get to buy my house for about half it's value through a mortgagee sale. Always seemed odd to me when people talk about owning their home, when the bank owns it until you've paid them 20+ years of interest.
"Always seemed odd to me when people talk about owning their home, when the bank owns it until you've paid them 20+ years of interest."
Well, if you make a profit when you come to sell you get to keep that money (after paying the outstanding debt off of course) - so you do 'own' it in that sense. You also get to say what happens in/on the property - the bank doesn't.
But I know what you mean :)
I didn't even bother with a Mortgage. I did a credit check on myself the other month, and they have absolutely no records of me whatsoever at experian or equifax. They just return, uhm, there is an issue, we currently cannot find any data on you, try back in a couple of weeks. So far, they remain with absolutely no idea who I am :)
Yeah , and you'd think having the knowing of how that magic works both in engineering (proper engineering) and computing up to degree level , would be well rewarded , not least cos its very difficult, but becasue the world as we know it depends on it . Not for me though. The "data protection officer" whose job could be replaced with a poster and a batch file is on 6k more than me. I'm barely clearing minimum wage. wtf happened .... only myself to blame i guess .. too old tired cynical now to suck the right ,er , cough sweets
Google's efforts to deal with the problem of "fake news" is to make bots to create even more?
Still, this might be an issue to an American. I struggle to see how Google can hope to challenge the likes of the Daily Mail that have been regurgitating alternative facts for years.
Re the above, im so glad someone has written this article as the above is absolutely awful on Utube, where there are many news items that look as tho they are worth reading..
The female monotoned voice over is americanised slurred machine speak thats completely unlike normal human speech. Its so bad I just cant listen to it.
Its trying to be clever and fails.
I wrote a comment to them and theres not been any change.
Now, if you want to enjoy someone speaking, try listening to Rob Cowan on radio 3 most mornings.
Or the later speeches of M Thatcher and even Nigel Farage. on his hour on LBC most evenings.
So , what do others think about this rotten news presentation?
I cant be alone?
Clearly a new definition of 'insight'. Originally "the faculty or power of seeing beneath the surface" (OED). Now - presumably - the ability to regurgitate a stream of words without thought.
A bot can not have an original opinion about anything because it can not understand. All it can do is match and maybe adjust patterns that have no intrinsic meaning to it. Consequently its journalistic output will be the lowest common denominator - or worse.
think I'll write a plugin for adblock that entirely blocks domains that are "out and out bullshit , auto generated clickbait sites" . It would work by by counting how many pages you have to navigate to read one "article". Often a clue is in the title . If the clickbaity title is "10 blankiest blanks" you can be sure you will be trawling through ten pages jam packed with adverts spending more time looking for the content in the sea of adverts then reading the content . then press next x10
Of course , we all knew that and instictively disregard such links.
..was UUCP, and the Word of the People.
And then came TCP/IP and the Words of the People spread Mightily. And it was Good.
but in the ninth month, came Eternal September, and the Exodus of all the people of Usenet into the promised land of HTTP.
And God looked down and saw that it was Bad. "I will sod em tommorah" he mused. And he dispatched the Archangel Gates, to oversee the destruction of the Peoples Words, so that only his might be heard.
And thus it came to pass that the tower of Babel. often misheard as Google, came to be filled with people spreading false information,and sowing the seeds of doubt discords and commercial competition.
And God saw that it was good, but not good enough. So in his Wisdom he made golems, that slept not, but worked tirelessly, so that no matter where man looked all he would see was what he was supposed to see, and all this thoughts were thoughts that were given to him by God.
Bit the hosts of the peole thus benighted, soon forgot how to set up a routing table, and terminate a fibre. And Lo, it came to pass that in the end there was no Internet, and no people to talk upon it, because having filled their heads with nonsense, they no longer could even look after themselves.
And so it was that the legends of man told of the Gates of Eden, where Eve was tempted to eat of the apple of faux knowledge by the serpent Google and Wikipedia, and God then cast man out from the walled garden, and left him to wander ion the outer darkness with no broadband or smart phones at all, as punishment for having dared to think for himself.
Because they're widely considered as an accurate news source.
Is it the Johnny Foreigner sounding name of the news outlet that you object to? I understand that a lot of people have issues with anything that sounds remotely Middle Eastern and involves brown people. Let me assure that such fears are completely unfounded.
You must be thinking of the Daily Mail or Sun.
Who have just trashed Google news.
Used to be easy, all the headline stories listed, grouped links to other sites where I can browse. Date search as well.
Now it is terrible and all the usefulness gone.
I do like aggregation services as they expose me to new news sites.
Now it is BBC, then one neutral, one a bit trashy, one left wing, one right wing, rather than a nice list of sites over one story.
I think ill stick to El Reg for now. This so called website might be full of typos, ads, clickbait and read like itbwas churned out by bots but nowhere on the internet have Infound suxh a rambunctious, passive aggressive and argumentative bunch of arseholes like the commentards here.
As the original AC, I strap on my gimp mask, zip up the mouth hole and wait for the inevitable spanking every time I (or someone pretending to be me) posts mibdless drivel here.
I come here for the news, but I stay for the commentard army.
You're all a bunch of loathesome casuals with the spirit of a caddish bounder. I salute you all.
He told Press Gazette: “At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, RADAR will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account.
“Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but RADAR allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually.”
I'm no "skilled human journalist", but would this Fabulous bot-based system be able to rewrite this statement to tell what it actually means?
“At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures because big money is not interested in real journalism which might upset the advertisers, RADAR will shamelessly bend over and spread'em to these "commercial pressures", and pollute the news ecosystem even more brainless spam than it contains already, (but here I put the word "local" in there because it's good PR), with a cost-effective way to provide a platform for more adverts, enabling democratic bodies to evade accountability because there's no-one with an enquiring mind in the loop to question their press releases.
“Skilled human journalists will be completely redundant to this process but I can't come out and say that because I'm a slimy PR-droid. RADAR allows us to harness artificial stupidity to scale up to a volume of spam that no-one will bother reading and no-one with a brain could ever be bothered to write”.
There was a piece on the BBC web site, oh, only a year or so ago, where you could look up your occupation and see how likely you are to be replaced by a robot.
"Journalist" was down near the bottom of the list, no way could journalists ever be replaced by robots, the journalists at the BBC reckoned.
How I laughed.
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