News automation and the new actors of journalistic processes

2 août 2020

This paper, whose original title is « Information automatisée et nouveaux acteurs des processus journalistiques« , was originally published in French.

DIERICKX, Laurence. Information automatisée et nouveaux acteurs des processus journalistiques. Sur le journalisme, About journalism, Sobre jornalismo, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, p. 154-167, déc. 2019. ISSN 2295-0729. Disponible à l’adresse : >http://www.surlejournalisme.kinghost.net/rev/index.php/slj/article/view/408>. Date de consultation : 02 août 2020 doi: https://doi.org/10.25200/SLJ.v8.n2.2019.408


The development of news automation technologies is uncovering new actors on the media scene who have not traditionally been linked to the world of journalism. Among these are technology companies employing linguists and computer scientists. Although they do not consider themselves as “producing journalism,” these companies do participate actively in an editorial production chain that was hitherto the purview of news professionals. This implies new forms of collaboration between different professional cultures; where the rationality of technology is opposed to the subjectivity of journalism. An automated process cannot be reduced to the transformation of input (data) into output (texts or any other form of visual representation), however. This process relies on traditional editorial logic, characterized by a succession of choices. This paper aims to better understand this dynamic by way of a case study conducted within French-speaking Belgian media, where an automated system was designed to support the daily routines of stock market journalists. The main lesson gleaned from this experiment was the need for a profile defined by both the journalistic and the technical fields, as it is meant to facilitate exchanges between these two worlds. The active involvement of journalists from the very beginning of any such project appears to be vital, as long as they have an expertise in the field it will be applied and the editorial skills to shape the program, which cannot be considered primarily technological. For social agents involved in the world of technology, this calls for a paradigm shift in which they accept that their participation in this new editorial process implies, at minimum, the development of a form of (automated) “journalistic thinking.”

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