The Future Of Sportswriting

(cc photo by theseanster93)

It seems to me that journalism is more vulnerable to outsourcing to Bangladesh than to automation, but NPR has a story about a “robot journalist” (i.e., computer program) outperforming a human sportswriter and certainly the “game recap” genre of news articles looks like it should be pretty feasible to automate. That’s especially true for baseball where we already have a lot of experience with using scorecards to summarize games in a way that would be machine readable.

Realistically, the main reason I think we won’t see the automation of this kind of sportswriting is that I have to believe you’d be able to get people to do the job for free. America has a large and growing pool of retired people, many of whom are of sound mind and body and many of whom are sportswriters. If you were able to offer them free good seats to see their home team play and write up summaries of what happened for a large audience, it seems to me that someone perfectly competent would be thrilled to take the “job” for a few years. Alternatively (and in some ways more likely) the beat reporter function will just wither away since amateur bloggers will be doing the job anyway and there’s no point in trying to compete with free.