Associated Press (AP) Generates Financial Reports Automatically
Reporters can well relate to the fact that writing stories about a business’ earnings can be such a drag, thanks to its monotony. That’s exactly why AP, Associated Press, lets its writers off from this task, by introducing an intelligent report generator for such financial stories.
If you doubt its performance, worry not. The system has been publishing 3,000 stories every quarter since the last six months and intends to increase in number. A recent proof is the report generated by AP automatically just after a few minutes of Apple’s announcement of their quarterly earnings. To accomplish the task of automating quarterly earnings in business reports, AP partnered up with Automated Insights (AI) which uses the Wordsmith platform.
The news generated is so flawless, you will not recognize any human interference in it – except at the end where it says “This story was generated by Automated Insights.” According to AI’s public relations manager James Kotecki, the platform generates millions of articles per week, as other partners include Allstate, Comcast, and Yahoo, where their fantasy football reports are automated. Kotecki estimates the company’s system can produce 2,000 articles per second if needed.
A business editor at Associated Press, Philana Patterson, admits that before the system was implemented, the staff was skeptical about a robot journalist among them. Thus, when the program began, every automated story passed through a human first, where errors were logged and sent to Automated Insights to make the necessary changes. With time, the reporters became a little confident and at ease, and within three months, stories “went out to the wire without human intervention.”
Both the AP and Automated Insights have confirmed that introducing an automated story generator has resulted in no jobs being lost.
Before this program began, AP was doing quarterly earnings coverage for about 300 companies. Now it automates 3,000 such reports each quarter. Out of those, only 120 have a human touch, that too either by updating the original story or doing a separate follow-up piece.
One such company is Apple; where an automated story allowed a reporter Brandon Bailey to focus on a more different report detailing the company’s earnings along with quotes from Apple executives. Others include Google, Coca-Cola, and American Airlines. 180 more are monitored to see if a follow-up is needed.
“One of the things we really wanted reporters to be able to do was when earnings came out to not have to focus on the initial numbers,” said Patterson. “That’s the goal, to write smarter pieces and more interesting stories.”