The Press Association (PA) has been awarded a €706,000 Google grant to create an automated news service for local press.
Working in collaboration with start-up Urbs Media, PA hopes to create 30,000 data-driven stories each month for local media outlets.
The Grant is from Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) Innovation Fund. The Initiative is a ‘partnership between Google and publishers in Europe to support high-quality journalism through technology and innovation’. Other DNI projects include user generated content verification, real-time infographics and tackling fake news.
The award for PA is one of the largest single grants from the €150m fund. The service that PA and Urbs Media has created is called RADAR – Reporters And Data And Robots – which will create localised stories from open data sets.
RADAR is designed to source information from government departments, local authorities and NHS Trusts to create stories that fit into standardised templates. These will be created by a team of five journalists that will effectively be system operators.
How easily RADAR will manage to pull out information from these traditionally byzantine organisations is yet to be tested, but with Google’s backing, the process is likely to be smoother. One thing is for sure, the PR teams at each will suddenly wield huge control over what’s accessible as well as the amount they want to work with RADAR.
PA hopes RADAR will benefit ‘independent publishers, hyperlocal outlets and bloggers’.
Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief at PA said: ‘At a time when many media outlets are experiencing commercial pressures, RADAR will provide the news ecosystem with a cost-effective way to provide incisive local stories, enabling audiences to hold democratic bodies to account.
‘Skilled human journalists will still be vital in the process, but RADAR allows us to harness artificial intelligence to scale up to a volume of local stories that would be impossible to provide manually.’
The changes this will bring on local news output and the quality of journalism is less than a year away – RADAR is scheduled to launch in early 2018.