Computer Algorithms Used in Russian News Agencies (a Case Study of Interfax and TASS)

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Diana Yu. Kulchitskaya

PhD in Philology, Associate Professor at the Chair of New Media and Theory of Communication, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

Tatiana I. Frolova

Doctor of Philology, Professor at the Chair of Periodical Press, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Section: Modern Journalism: Subjects and Issues

This article presents the results of a case study into the way two leading Russian news agencies use algorithms in the process of news writing. Both Interfax and TASS agencies are pioneers in implementing robotic technologies in daily journalistic practice. These media outlets use algorithms for creating short news items and categorizing news stories according to their subject. Through the methods of in-depth interview among editors of both news agencies, the authors of the article find which topics are covered using algorithms and what the specifics of creating news stories with the aid of computer programs is. Besides, the main challenges and problems involved in algorithm implementation are highlighted. The second part of the study is devoted to a textual analysis of 20 news items created by means of computer programs. An attempt is made to distinguish their stylistic and structural features. In conclusion, the authors point out that, according to the interviewed editors, algorithms will not replace journalists as computer programs cannot write complex analytical texts.

Keywords: automated texts, algorithms in journalism, robotic journalism, working with big data, news agencies
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.1.2020.319


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