Penny pinching print moguls steal the soul of journalism to save a few bucks.
by: Zain Abouraia, Opinion Editor
It may seem petty and egoistic, but hiring a robot to write entry level stories that should be done by cubs is nothing less than giving up the good fight.
For those of you who are unaware, the L.A. Times used an algorithm to write a story about the earthquake that happened in the wee morning hours of St. Patrick’s Day. They boasted to be the first to cover the story.
Writers are intelligent, intelligent enough to know that journalism is not a very lucrative field to explore. The only people in any media that are rich are the owners and the most famous news/opinion anchors. The owners care about profitability and the anchors care about looking good on camera as they read what someone else has written.
We writers know all of that and still want to be journalists, why? Our commitment is that deep. Not to generalize or romanticize, but the majority of writers that want to write in any field of journalism do so because they have a passion for transmitting information via the forgotten, but no less beautiful, written word.
Writers understand that we have to be “realistic,” and thus have sympathy for print giants like the L.A. Times and Forbes because they save money by using an algorithm that can assemble a story based on statistics and a few stock phrases to glue it all together. A robot cannot do what a human writer can do; an algorithm could never summon the righteous fury displayed in these words that come from watching young writers not have the opportunity to prove themselves.
The only way to get great writers is to start writing early. Having a starting position at a publication generally consists of writing the stories no one else wants to write. Cub reporters, as they are known, are essentially Russian bears nailed to a bicycle who are whipped and told to pedal faster. They write on all the boring topics that garner little interest: local parks, city council meetings, traffic deaths, shootings, homicides, fires, etc. Generally, the only people that want to read these stories are people who saw it happen.
However, it is the only way to hone one’s craft in writing, just like the sword smith that folds the shining steel of a Japanese katana 500 times so that it will attain and keep a razor’s edge for all eternity.
One can conjure up the image of a stunningly beautiful house built by a 50-year-old architect and another image of a miniature log cabin, kept together by Elmer’s school-glue, submitted by a five-year old for your approval. Which house do you want to live in?