Yonhap News Agency has fielded a “robot reporter” to cover the ongoing Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.
According to the South Korean news agency, introducing this manner of producing news stories is part of its efforts to “improve coverage and expand technology-based journalism”.
The “robot reporter” is actually an “automated reporting system” or “Olympicbot software”. It was first used at last week’s preliminary round of mixed doubles between the United States and Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), Yonhap reported.
The Olympicbot relies on an algorithm that assists in writing news stories by collecting data from the Olympic organizing committee. It makes use of a database of words and sentences used by Yonhap reporters to write stories, along with data gathered from sports events in the Olympics.
The time required for the robot to produce a story and publish it on the agency’s website is just one or two seconds after an event is concluded.
After the robot was developed, the news agency did a test run in the second half of 2017, subjecting it to various scenarios that could happen during the Winter Olympics.
Readers so far can only read articles written by the robot in Korean language. The stories cover all the 15 sports events in real time during the Winter Games.
The robot will also be deployed to cover the Paralympic Winter Games from March 9 to 18.
Using a robot to write news stories is not something new to the agency. Yonhap covered the English Premier League football matches using the automated system in 2017.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 15
Translation by Jonathan Chong with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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