Newspaper Industry News

The sportswriting machine

Most game recaps stick to a familiar formula. In the first couple of paragraphs, you’ll get the final score and a brief description of whatever turning point led to it. If a basketball player scored thirty points, and a writer notes that in the first sentence, then you expect to hear from that player a few paragraphs down. This pattern repeats itself again and again through a season, with game statistics and postgame sound bites like “We were just trying to be aggressive out there” functioning as data points that the writer can simply plug in. This is not to say that sportswriters are automatons, robotically churning out copy—but what if they could be?

Earlier this month, the Associated Press announced that it would be relying on “automation technology” to cover college sports such as baseball and lower-division basketball and football, to which it has traditionally been unable to send reporters…

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