Canadian journalists covering the coming federal election will have background data on command with a new automated system by the Canadian Press. The system is described in J-SOURCE by its lead creator, Lucas Timmons, a CP journalist leading automation initiatives at the Canadian news agency.
Reporters and editors can ask for past voting results by constituency, with four options:
- Overview mode – facts about the constituency
- Detailed mode – the facts plus more granularity, for example demographics by gender, age, etc.
- Compare mode – results for two constituencies, with ranking and averaging to add context
- Story mode – an automated 700 word narrative, intended as background material in a bigger piece
Timmons says CP chose a conversational interface to reduce technophobia. CP has used bot systems in other elections but this in the first it’s widely distributing to member organizations.
‘Reporters who might be inexperienced with or intimidated by massive data tables can use the information with no need for database or Excel skills.’