News Reports by A.I. Complement News Reports by Humans; Expanding Coverage of Routine Minor Recurring Events

(p. B1) As the use of artificial intelli-(p. B3)gence has become a part of the industry’s toolbox, journalism executives say it is not a threat to human employees. Rather, the idea is to allow journalists to spend more time on substantive work.

“The work of journalism is creative, it’s about curiosity, it’s about storytelling, it’s about digging and holding governments accountable, it’s critical thinking, it’s judgment — and that is where we want our journalists spending their energy,” said Lisa Gibbs, the director of news partnerships for The A.P.

. . .

In addition to leaning on the software to generate minor league and college game stories, The A.P., like Bloomberg, has used it to beef up its coverage of company earnings reports. Since joining forces with Automated Insights, The A.P. has gone from producing 300 articles on earnings reports per quarter to 3,700.

. . .

The A.P., The Post and Bloomberg have also set up internal alerts to signal anomalous bits of data. Reporters who see the alert can then determine if there is a bigger story to be written by a human being. During the Olympics, for instance, The Post set up alerts on Slack, the workplace messaging system, to inform editors if a result was 10 percent above or below an Olympic world record.

For the full story, see:

Jaclyn Peiser. “As A.I. Reporters Arrive, The Other Kind Hangs In.” The New York Times (Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019): B1 & B3.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date Feb. 4, 2019, and has the title “The Rise of the Robot Reporter.”)

Rupert Murdoch’s Journalism Praised in New York Times

HolmesElizabethTheranosCEO2018-07-17.jpgElizabeth Holmes, former CEO of Theranos. (Apparently it takes more than a black turtleneck to be Steve Jobs.) Source of photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.

(p. 13) In 2015, Vice President Joe Biden visited the Newark, Calif., laboratory of a hot new start-up making medical devices: Theranos. Biden saw rows of impressive-looking equipment — the company’s supposedly game-changing device for testing blood — and offered glowing praise for “the laboratory of the future.”

The lab was a fake. The devices Biden saw weren’t close to being workable; they had been staged for the visit.
Biden was not the only one conned. In Theranos’s brief, Icarus-like existence as a Silicon Valley darling, marquee investors including Robert Kraft, Betsy DeVos and Carlos Slim shelled out $900 million. The company was the subject of adoring media profiles; it attracted a who’s who of retired politicos to its board, among them George Shultz and Henry Kissinger. It wowed an associate dean at Stanford; it persuaded Safeway and Walgreens to spend millions of dollars to set up clinics to showcase Theranos’s vaunted revolutionary technology.
. . .
Even for a private company like Theranos, disclosure is the bedrock of American capitalism — the “disinfectant” that allows investors to gauge a company’s prospects. Based on Carreyrou’s dogged reporting, not even Enron lied so freely.
. . .
Holmes . . . pleaded with Rupert Murdoch — the power behind The Wall Street Journal and, as it happened, her biggest investor — to kill the story. It’s a good moment in American journalism when Murdoch says he’ll leave it to the editors.
. . .
Some of the directors displayed a fawning devotion to Holmes — in effect becoming cheerleaders rather than overseers. Shultz helped his grandson land a job; when the kid reported back that the place was rotten, Grandpa didn’t believe him. There is a larger moral here: The people in the trenches know best. The V.I.P. directors were nectar for investor bees, but they had no relevant expertise.

For the full review, see:
Roger Lowenstein. “This Will Only Hurt a Little.” The New York Times Book Review (Sunday, June 17, 2018): 13.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the review has the date May [sic] 21, 2018, and has the title “How One Company Scammed Silicon Valley. And How It Got Caught.”)

The book under review, is:
Carreyrou, John. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2018.

Art Diamond Predicts a 40% Chance that Elon Musk Will Make It to Mars

(p. A1) What are the chances that readers will make it to the end of this article? About 40%.
If you do make it, that prediction will look smart. If you don’t, well, we said the odds were against it.
Such is the nature of the 40% rule, a favorite forecasting tactic of Wall Street analysts and other prognosticators trying to make a bold call without being too bold.
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said last month there’s a 40% chance that Brexit will be reversed; Citigroup Inc. analyst Jim Suva wrote that there’s a 40% chance Apple Inc. buys Netflix Inc.; and Nomura Holdings Inc. economist Lewis Alexander said there’s a 40% chance Nafta gets ripped up.
The nice thing about 40% is that you never have to say you were wrong, says Peter Tchir, a market strategist at Academy Securities. Say you predict the Dow Jones Industrial Average has a 40% chance of hitting 30000 before year-end.
“Get it right and you can say ‘See, I was telling everyone it could happen,’ ” he says. “Get it wrong and you can weasel your way out: ‘I didn’t say it was likely, I just said it was a strong possibility.’ “

For the full story, see:
Winkler, Rolfe and Justin Lahart, “How Pundits Never Get It Wrong: Call a 40% Chance.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018): A1 & A10.
(Note: the online version of the article has the date Feb. 26, 2018, and has the title “How Do Pundits Never Get It Wrong? Call a 40% Chance.”)

Reporters Celebrate Union Before Losing Jobs

(p. A23) A week ago, reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, two of New York City’s leading digital purveyors of local news, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union.
On Thursday [November 2, 2018], they lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down.

For the full story, see:
ANDY NEWMAN and JOHN LELAND. “DNAinfo and Gothamist Shut Down After Workers Join a Union.” The New York Times (Tuesday, November 3, 2017): A23.
(Note: bracketed date added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date NOV. 2, 2017, and has the title “DNAinfo and Gothamist Are Shut Down After Vote to Unionize.” The online version says that the page number of the New York edition was A21. The page number of my edition, probably midwest, was A23.)

The Politically Correct Fight Against the Leprechaun of Notre Dame

180px-Notre_Dame_Leprechaun_logo.svg.png

Source of image: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notre_Dame_Leprechaun

(p. A17) So it’s come to this: Leprechauns are hateful.

Not just any leprechauns, mind you. This particular one–hat cocked, chin out, dukes up–happens to be the mascot for the Fighting Irish of the University of Notre Dame. The little, green-suited man is now in the same politically correct crosshairs that recently locked onto the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo. And ESPN’s Max Kellerman has called on Notre Dame to follow the Indians’ lead and send this leprechaun back to the end of the rainbow where he belongs.
“Many Irish-Americans are not offended, but many are,” Mr. Kellerman said.
. . .
. . . , Mr. Kellerman understands the zeitgeist well. His argument that the 34 million Irish-Americans who are mostly untroubled by the Fighting Irish leprechaun must be forced to yield to the demands of one outraged Irish-American friend is as current as they come.
But in the case of Notre Dame, the more interesting question may be the one the ESPN analyst never asks. Each week on national TV, especially during football season, the Fighting Irish offer their own lesson in diversity. Instead of condemning a cartoon leprechaun, perhaps America ought to be applauding the healthy cultural appropriation that happens every time African-American, Asian-American and Latino athletes compete together wearing jerseys or helmets proudly proclaiming themselves “Irish.”

For the full commentary, see:
William McGurn. “Are Leprechauns Racist?; Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish offer some healthy cultural appropriation.” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, February 6, 2018): A17.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Feb. 5, 2018.)

Bezos Resurrects Washington Post Through High-Quality Journalism

(p. B1) As a private company since 2013, when the deep-pocketed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought it for $250 million, The Post doesn’t disclose much financial data. But by all visible measures, including the vital but hard-to-measure buzz factor, the resurrection of The Post, both editorially and financially, in less than four years has been little short of astonishing.
The Post has said that it was prof-(p. B4)itable last year — and not through cost-cutting. On the contrary, under the newsroom leadership of Martin Baron, the former editor of The Boston Globe memorably portrayed in the film “Spotlight,” The Post has gone on a hiring spree. It has hired hundreds of reporters and editors and has more than tripled its technology staff.
. . .
Scoops — and high-quality journalism more generally — are integral to The Post’s business model at a time when the future of digital journalism seemed to be veering toward the lowest common denominator of exploding watermelons and stupid pet tricks.
“Investigative reporting is absolutely critical to our business model,” Mr. Baron told me. “We add value. We tell people what they didn’t already know. We hold government and powerful people and institutions accountable. This cannot happen without financial support. We’re at the point where the public realizes that and is willing to step up and support that work by buying subscriptions.”

For the full story, see:
JAMES B. STEWART. “Common Sense; The Post’s Latest Bombshell: It’s Thriving in Digital News.” The New York Times (Sat., MAY 20, 2017): B1 & B4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MAY 19, 2017, and has the title “Common Sense; Washington Post, Breaking News, Is Also Breaking New Ground.”)

FDR Ruthlessly Manipulated Political Process

(p. D8) Michael C. Janeway, a former editor of The Boston Globe and executive editor of The Atlantic Monthly who wrote two books chronicling what he saw as the intertwined decline of democracy and journalism in the United States, died on Thursday [April 17, 2014] at his home in Lakeville, Conn.
. . .
The second book, “The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power From FDR to LBJ,” published in 2004, measured some of the ideas in his first book against the history of the New Deal. It focused on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inner circle of advisers, a group of political operatives and thinkers often called Roosevelt’s “brain trust,” who helped conceive ideas like the minimum wage, Social Security and federal bank deposit insurance.
Mr. Janeway’s father, Eliot Janeway, an economist, Democratic hand and columnist for Time magazine (a portfolio not unheard-of in those days), was a prominent member of that group.
Michael Janeway suggested that in undertaking the radical changes necessary to yank the “shattered American capitalist system into regulation and reform,” Roosevelt and his team manipulated the political process with a level of ruthlessness that may have been justified by the perils of the times. But in the years that followed, he wrote, the habit of guile and highhandedness devolved into the kind of arrogance that defined — and doomed — the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson, Roosevelt’s last political heir.

For the full obituary, see:
PAUL VITELLO. “Michael Janeway, 73, Former Editor of The Boston Globe.” The New York Times (Sat., APRIL 19, 2014): D8.
(Note: ellipsis, and bracketed date, added.)
(Note: the online version of the obituary has title “Michael Janeway, Former Editor of The Boston Globe, Dies at 73.”)

The book mentioned in the passage quoted above is:
Janeway, Michael. The Fall of the House of Roosevelt: Brokers of Ideas and Power from FDR to LBJ, Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.