Thanks to a robot writer, the Los Angeles Times was the first newspaper to publish a story about an earthquake on Monday. Ken Schwencke, a journalist-cum-programmer, created an algorithm that automatically generates an article in the event of an eqarthquake. According to Schwencke, the article took about 3 minutes to appear online, and included any details provided by the USGS Earthquake Notification Service.
The LA Times is leading the way in the field of 'robo-journalism', which is becoming increasingly used in newsrooms worldwide. Schwencke's argument is that this does not replace the journalist, but allows any available data to be gathered speedily. "It saves people a lot of time, and for certain types of stories, it gets the information out there in usually as good a way as anybody else would," he stated. "The way I see it, it doesn't eliminate anybody's job as much as it makes everybody's job more interesting." Another algorithm used at the LA Times generates articles about crime in the city, but counts on human editors to decide which stories need greater attention.