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The Washington Post to use artificial intelligence to cover nearly 500 races on Election Day

The Washington Post will cover House, Senate and gubernatorial races for all 50 states on Election Day using its advanced artificial intelligence technology, Heliograf, which first debuted during the Rio Olympics. This unprecedented level of election coverage provides readers with up-to-date reporting, analysis and results for nearly 500 races and allows The Post to personalize the experience by surfacing races for readers based on their location.

“We have transformed Heliograf into a hybrid content management system that relies on machines and humans, distinguishing it from other technologies currently in use. This dual-touch capability allows The Post to create stories that are better than any automated system but more constantly updated than any human-written story could be,” said Jeremy Gilbert, director of strategic initiatives at The Post.

Using Heliograf’s editing tool, Post editors can add reporting, analysis and color to stories alongside the bot-written text. Editors can also overwrite the bot text if needed. The articles will be “living stories,” first beginning as a preview of a race in the days leading up to the election. On Election Day, stories will update with results in real-time and then, after a race is called, the story will provide analysis of the final results. Geo-targeted content will surface in The Post’s liveblog and in special Election Day newsletters to readers, offering updates on races in their state. Internally, Heliograf also surfaces leads for potential stories, and on Election night, will alert reporters via Slack when incumbents are lagging and races are called.

“The future of automated storytelling is the seamless blend of human reporting and machine generated content,” said Dr. Sam Han, director of data science at The Post. ”The Post’s sophisticated artificial intelligence is the connective tissue that allows us to combine these different sources and to power Heliograf so that it can write highly personalized stories for the benefit of journalists and readers alike.”

“We have just begun to scratch the surface on what is possible with artificial intelligence,” said Shailesh Prakash, chief technology officer at The Post. “Smart technology is an area we will continue to invest in and embed into every engineering system that powers The Washington Post and our Arc technology partners.”

Heliograf is part of a suite of artificial intelligence tools which are available through The Post’s publishing platform Arc.

About Arc Publishing: Arc Publishing ( is a state-of-the-art digital platform and suite of tools that’s engineered to meet the needs of modern publishers. Built by engineers and designers at The Washington Post, Arc is made up of flexible, sophisticated tools that work seamlessly together and can function individually. Arc spans the range of technology needs for digital publishers, including video, mobile web and apps, syndication to distributed platforms, automatic content testing, data mining and innovative monetization tools. At its core, Arc is about speed: for readers, the newsroom, advertisers and developers.