Reuters is taking a big gamble on AI-supported journalism

Reuters is building an AI tool to help journalists analyse data, suggest story ideas, and even write some sentences, aiming not to replace reporters but instead augment them with a digital data scientist-cum-copywriting assistant.

Called Lynx Insight, it has been trialled by dozens of journalists since the summer, and will now be rolled out across Reuters newsrooms. Reg Chua, executive editor of editorial operations, data and innovation at Reuters, says the aim is to divvy up editorial work into what machines do best (such as chew through data and spot patterns), and what human editorial staff excel at (such as asking questions, judging importance, understanding context and — presumably — drinking excessive amounts of coffee).

That differs from previous editorial tech efforts that sought to train AI to write entire stories, such as snippets about local sports teams or earthquake warnings. Reuters already tried that with financial stories, and that work has “informed” the new aim to build a “cybernetic newsroom”, rather than a fully automated one, says Chua. “The real value is using machines to do what they’re good at and then presenting that to humans — that’s the best of both worlds.”