October 12th, 2006 by Bob Bly
Two key factors can threaten your future job security:
1. Your job can be outsourced to India (e.g., programming, call centers).
2. Your job can be done by a computer or other machine.
Journalism hasn’t made a top 10 list of “hot careers” for years.
And now reason #2 above puts journalists in even greater danger of becoming obsolete.
My friend and fellow copywriter TNT sent me an article reporting That Thomson Financial, a large publisher, is using automatic computer programs instead of human journalists to write news stories.
The robot reporter can process the market data in fianncial reports and file a round-up article, written in plain English sentences, in 0.3 seconds.
In the good old days, it took me 10 times longer — 3 seconds — just to take the cover off my trusty IBM Selectric!
No human reporter can write a financial article as quickly as the robot.
But can we do it better?
One person quoted in the article says yes, pointing out that a computer can’t pick up the nuances and interpret the financial data as well as a skilled financial writer can.
But does that mean financial journalists can give a big sigh of relief and assume their jobs are safe forever?
Or is it merely a matter of time before programmers improve software to the point that writers are obsolete?
Think it can’t happen?
Ask Garry Kasparov some time about how much money he’d make winning chess tournaments if IBM’s Big Blue were allowed to compete for money.
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