Automated Journalism as a Source of and a Diagnostic Device for Bias in Reporting

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In this article we consider automated journalism from the perspective of bias in news text. We describe how systems for
automated journalism could be biased in terms of both the information content and the lexical choices in the text, and
what mechanisms allow human biases to affect automated journalism even if the data the system operates on is considered
neutral. Hence, we sketch out three distinct scenarios differentiated by the technical transparency of the systems
and the level of cooperation of the system operator, affecting the choice of methods for investigating bias. We identify
methods for diagnostics in each of the scenarios and note that one of the scenarios is largely identical to investigating
bias in non-automatically produced texts. As a solution to this last scenario, we suggest the construction of a simple news
generation system, which could enable a type of analysis-by-proxy. Instead of analyzing the system, to which the access
is limited, one would generate an approximation of the system which can be accessed and analyzed freely. If successful,
this method could also be applied to analysis of human-written texts. This would make automated journalism not only a
target of bias diagnostics, but also a diagnostic device for identifying bias in human-written news.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMedia and Communication
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)39-49
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jul 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 113 Computer and information sciences
  • 518 Media and communications

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