Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

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

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Abstract:  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.

Keywords:  algorithmic journalism; automated journalism; bias; diagnosis; journalism; news automation



© Leo Leppänen, Hanna Tuulonen, Stefanie Sirén-Heikel. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.