By Gregory Ferenstein
As reporters around the country scrambled to push out stories on early-morning earthquakes that awoke southern California, The LA Times had a machine write its piece. “This information comes from the USGS Earthquake Notification Service and this post was created by an algorithm written by the author,” explained the news story, posted 20 minutes after the USGS registered a 2.7 aftershock that hit Westwood.
“Algorithms can help you find and report the news,” LA Times reporter Ben Welsh told Journalism.co.uk about a similar earthquake piece last year. “You can write code that will ask and answer the common questions that a reporter would ask when looking at that same dataset.”