In the last three months of 2014, the Associated Press published 3,000 articles on the earning reports of U.S. companies. Previously it could publish only 300.
The AP did that not by adding manpower to work on earnings reports, but actually shifting its reporters to more high-end enterprise journalism. With the exception of big banks, which have extremely complicated earnings reports, the AP is relying on automation software that scans company’s earnings and produces a narrative. You may not even be able to tell it was written by an algorithm. (Test yourself here.)
“We couldn’t be happier,” said Lou Ferrara, the AP vice president and managing editor who oversees business news. “I would say for automation we’re at the infancy of this thing. There’s a lot more fields to run on and stuff to be accomplished.” He said his customers have been happy with the increase in content.
Ferrara mentioned sports leagues with smaller audiences as possible areas of expansion, such as Major League Soccer, the Women’s National Basketball Association, Minor League Baseball and Division II college sports.
The Associated Press initially announced in the summer of 2014 that it would be automating earnings report stories with technology from Automated Insights, a company in Durham, N.C., that specializes in turning data into readable text.
“When you look at the 170-year history of a company like the Associated Press, part of its success has been adapting and innovating in new media formats,” Ferrara said. “We see this as part of that history.”
Automated Insights’s technology, the Wordsmith natural language generating platform, also is being used by Yahoo Sports for fantasy football write-ups.