By Shannon McCormick, Media Relations Manager
On a recent media visit to Atlanta, MediaSource had the opportunity to visit The Weather Channel. It’s no surprise that The Weather Channel is a high-tech, forward-thinking operation, and our team left the visit with a clear understanding: we all better get used to the idea of automation in newsrooms.
You probably already know that the The Associated Press started using an automated writing service for certain content. We saw how TV stations started using robotic camera systems instead of human crews decades ago. Now, the use of robots and automation software is increasing. The Weather Channel's adoption of this technology is an interesting example of the many steps in the live production chain that are now being automated. This trend will not be unique to this outlet—more will follow suit and adopt automation as a means of simplifying live production.
After working in a newsroom for years, I know robots can't fully replace human journalists. People will always have the best ability to forge relationships and conduct skilled face-to-face interviews. Human journalists can respond intuitively and carve out the heart of the news angle in a way machines simply cannot, and will not ever be able to. But machines are here—and they will change the industry. As PR pros, we need to evolve to keep up. It’s our responsibility to keep pace with the rapidly changing news business so we know where our services can be most helpful to journalists. Like newsrooms, PR practitioners need to find the right balance between embracing technology and never losing sight of the immense value of real relationships.
Done properly, automated journalism has the potential to make the news business more sophisticated and compelling. I hope PR professionals will rise to the challenge and evolve with our friends in the news to discover new ways to be useful to members of the media.