Editorial algorithms: Using social media to discover and report local news

The role of algorithms in the detection, curation and broadcast of news is becoming increasingly prevalent. To better understand this role we developed CityBeat, a system that implements what we call “editorial algorithms” to find possible news events.

This fully functional system collects real time geo-tagged information from social media, finds key stories, makes an editorial decision whether these events are of interest and eventually visualizes these stories on a big screen display. The system was designed in collaboration with journalists and tested at four New York City newsrooms. Our results show that while journalists were receptive to the idea of machine-generated news stories, the actual results of the system confirmed current concerns among journalists and researchers about the dangers of outsourcing news finding tasks to machines. This paper therefore exemplifies how news sourcing systems based on social media may favor specific type of news events, do not report results quickly enough, and cater to a biased population and interests.

SOURCE: Schwartz, R., Naaman, M., & Teodoro, R. (2015). Editorial algorithms: Using social media to discover and report local news. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. Oxford, UK. [Download Here.]