Towards a bright future by reinventing the past

“News has to become cheaper to produce, and cost reduction must be accompanied by a restructuring of organizational models and processes”, Bell tells us in her 2007 manifesto on the future of journalism. An obvious way to go about reducing cost in news production is by cutting on the biggest expense modern media companies have: human labor. The automation and computerization of production processes outside of media companies has been widely implemented already.

While being the biggest expense, human labor makes up the most important asset of media companies as well. It may seem daunting, therefore, that human journalists could be at risk of becoming obsolete due to AI taking over their jobs. This fear however is not entirely rational.

Let’s look at Automated Insights. This startup, founded in 2007, produced 1.5 billion automated pieces of content in 2016 alone. They provide different tools for creating automated, data-driven media. The Associated Press, among many others, uses their tools. Their spokesperson claims that the automation provided by Automated Insights does not lead to job displacement. Quite the contrary, AI helps to free up resources and time for journalists to focus on important things.

When automobiles were invented, horse coachmen feared for their jobs. The same goes for paper printing companies at the time of the invention of the personal computer. The list of examples goes on. Although reinventions that cause changes in commercial processes may be disruptive to the working environment on a small scale, new labor arises out of new opportunities. In the end, it’s very likely that the working environment will stabilize one way or another. This means that we have to consider these kinds of changes with just the right amount of scrutiny; we have to critically assess organizational restructuring while simultaneously regarding new production processes as new opportunities.

By Victor Berndsen

Word count: 300


Bell, Emily, C. W. Anderson, and Clay Shirky. “Post-
Industrial Journalism: Adapting to the Present.” Geopolitics, History, and International Relations 2 (2015): 32–123. Print.

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