Automating the News

How have algorithms shaped our news stories?

Automating the news: how algorithms are rewriting the media

Diakopoulos, Nicholas. Harvard, 2019
322p index, 9780674976986 $29.95, 9780674239302

Algorithms got you cross-eyed? Worried that you pay more attention to stats and numbers than to people and events? Think the news business is too formulaic with its reports? Then welcome to the wonderful world of, well, the future—for what it’s worth. People of a certain generation may worry and fuss about it all, whereas people of another generation may roll their eyes and go back to their electronic gizmo du jour. The point is this: people who come down on one side or another of the divide (if there really is one) will look for proof that their fears are warranted, or that the thing that goes bump in the night is the result of too much spicy food at bedtime and nothing more. Diakopoulos (director, Computational Journalism Lab, Northwester Univ.; Tow fellow, Columbia Journalism School) measures all the evidence and gives one food for thought—leaving the reader to decide whether that food is spicy or bland. Diakopoulos has done his research well, and his book provides good insight into what an automated future may mean to the future of the news business. This book is also about people, and the insight Diakopoulos gives will come in handy for those analyzing the frames of the 2020 election.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.
Reviewer: J. Marren, Buffalo State College
Subject: Humanities – Communication
Choice Issue: Jul 2020