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The automated e-reporter

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by fossywriter8, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. fossywriter8

    fossywriter8 Active Member

    Don't know if anyone else has heard of this, but we recently received a flier in the mail from a company named enarratives in Sandusky, Ohio. (www.enarratives.com[/b])

    Among the services it offers (there is a great one for full-color sports programs from 8 to 32 pages) is a program called SportsWriter. Basically, you type in box score info and the program shoots you back an AP-style story in about 30 seconds. Cost -- $100 per month or $900 per year.

    It sounds good (well, at least to bean counters), but just by looking at the samples, it's not.

    The flier proudly proclaims SportsWriter can send you a story -- an AP-style story, remember -- written from the point of view of the home team or away team, or from a neutral point of view.

    And if you don't like the story, don't worry. Just hit a button and the program will generate another one in a few seconds.

    Here's an example of one of the stories written from the perspective of one of the teams provided in the flier:

    There may have been more, but that's where the snippet of an example ended. To be fair, the company says the program can be adjusted to provide a story to specific text limit.

    The company touts the service as a way to generate round-up stories quickly, freeing up a paper's staff to tackle other projects. Another plus is that the program saves the info in a database so it can be used later for other projects. And it covers a wide range of sports (baseball, basketball, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, gymnastics, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, track & field, volleyball and wrestling).

    OK, it has benefits, I can understand that. But I have a few problems with it:

    1) As the above story shows, the writing program is horrible. That can be fixed, though, by someone letting the company know what AP style really is. I can just see any editor who's forced to use this program hitting that re-write button hundreds of times per story.

    2) I'm afraid the powers that be would jump on this kind of service to slash newsroom costs, forgetting that someone still must type the info into the program to have the story written. That means someone (or more likely a few) must still make calls, answer the phone and make laps back and forth between a computer and fax machine.

    3) Because of its terrible style, part-timers and high school interns either won't get a chance to learn how to write a round-up on their own or, worse yet, think what the program spits out is acceptable. That means more time spent by an editor trying to explain why something like "The victory prolongs an eight-game winning streak" is not good form.

    Anyway, hate to sound like a Luddite, but is this where the industry is headed?
  2. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    oh. lord.
  3. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Bangalore, where it sounds like this program was written...

    Or Mt. Clemens, one of the two.
  4. Bullwinkle

    Bullwinkle Member

    This made my night. :D ;D
  5. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    This might be the most sienfeld-ish moment in the history of this board.

    My roommate from college went to L'Anse Cruese North. My other roommate went to Cousino.
  6. zebracoy

    zebracoy Guest

    Agree. I love the "tallest player" reference.
  7. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    compared with. it's compared with. dumb machine.

    on a bright note, it's better than the esquire story on the killer.
  8. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    I still can't get over the two teams in the brief, and yes Slappy this was probably written in the Mt. Clemens Gibralter Trade Center with some guy who sells stereos and hand-made oven mitts.
  9. TheMethod

    TheMethod Member

    This is one of those ideas that sounds somewhat decent at first, then gains a little steam, then somebody actually uses it for a while until it keeps spitting out shitty copy and someone eventually goes, "You know, I could write this myself in about four minutes. It'll be better copy, we won't have to pay for the service and I'm here anyway." And then the lightbulb comes back on and everybody realizes what a bad idea it was in the first place.
  10. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Since when did 12-Mile High get dorms?
  11. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    Typing in a box score is often times more of a pain in the ass than typing in the actual gamer wrap.
  12. mustangj17

    mustangj17 Active Member

    Haha it was actually 696 University.
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