Eat The Press

Business information service Thomson Financial has found a way to eliminate that cumbersome middleman from reporting: The reporter. Turns out it's been using computers to create stories since March and plans to roll out the expanded, people-free version soon. According to the FT, the replacement computers "work so fast that an earnings story can be released within 0.3 seconds of the company making results public... By using previous results in Thomson's database, the computer stories say whether a company has done better or worse than expected."

Said Thomson senior vice-president of strategy Matthew Burkley: "This means we can free up reporters so they have more time to think." (The awkward, unspoken elephant in the room here: thinking takes more than 0.3 seconds). This is the best part though: apparently the stories were pretty standardized so Burkley said that "We might try and write a few more adjectives into the program." Mad-libs journalism, whee! "The earnings were higher than those from the last quarter, which were somewhat squishy."

And check this out: "Reuters said it automatically generated some stories, while Bloomberg said it did not." Wow.

Said the FT in its understatedly tart editorial on the matter: Thomson Financial can release an earnings story within 0.3 seconds of
the results being made public. Editorials are simpler, having a lower
fact content, and we can produce them in a mere 0.2 seconds. And what
could be more valuable than timely comment?" In unrelated news, the Huffington Post has just come up with a computer program to overwrite blog posts with phrases like "understatedly tart."

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