Future is here: AP to use computers to write game stories for college baseball; bigger sports are ‘next wave’

An excerpt from my latest column for Poynter:


On the surface, this lede hardly is memorable:

“North Carolina grabbed the lead in the top of the 10th inning as a wild pitch by Clark Labitan allowed Colin Moran to score the go-ahead run. The Tar Heels held on to defeat Virginia Tech 9-8.”

Jim Murray, it is not, but dig a bit deeper and the significance of this lede comes into clear focus. It wasn’t written by a reporter who covered a game. Instead, it was composed by a computer.

Later this month, the Associated Press will be churning out similar computer-generated ledes and stories on college baseball in a new deal with the NCAA. The pact calls for AP to employ “automation technology” to cover college sports beyond big-time football and basketball, including those at the Division II and III level, that traditionally don’t receive coverage.

Hold your breath sports journalists, because it’s just a start, says Lou Ferrara, vice-president of sports, business and entertainment news for the Associated Press. He says computer-generated game stories eventually will make their way to the bigger sports like Major League Baseball and NFL games.

“That’s our next wave,” Ferrara said.

Later Ferrara added, “I look at sports as a pivot point of change [for automation technology].”


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