BuzzFeed has created a chatbot whose job is to keep tabs of, among other things, protests that take place away from the floor of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The reporter bot announced yesterday was made to supplement work by real live humans, because though the news outlet will have 19 reporters in Cleveland, according to Poynter, they can’t be everywhere at once at an event that attracts tens of thousands of people.
BuzzFeed’s reporter bot starts by asking users a few questions. If the bot finds you’re in Cleveland and part of the convention or protests, it encourages you to share photos and videos. Periodic updates will be sent for requests surrounding specific news events.
Readers can speak to the bot by visiting the BuzzFeed News Facebook page or visiting m.me/buzzfeednews.
The bot was made by BuzzFeed Open Lab, an experimental wing of the company based in San Francisco. The volume and diversity of bots made by news organizations have increased gradually in recent months.
Many simply share the latest headlines and top news like an RSS feed, but some news organizations are trying to go beyond sharing headlines.
Mic, for example, created Emoji News, a bot that interprets the news in emojis, and Captions, a daily photo caption contest.
Virtually every one of these bots operates on popular chat apps like Facebook Messenger and Kik; however, the Quartz bot, widely considered one of the most advanced, is a standalone app.
Released last week, Washington Post’s bot covers the typical search word and pushes top stories to users. It will also keep you posted about local news, such as the congressional race where you live.
In his roundup of interesting bots made by or for chatbots by news readers and journalists, Johannes Klingebiel of Thoughts on Journalism dreamed of bots that engage readers beyond headlines and deliver the news in a unique tone of voice.
“For example a B2B Slack-bot, which could deliver business analyses or a ticker-style bot for emergencies worldwide,” he wrote. “I’d also like to see more ways for users to send questions, tips and comments directly into the newsroom.”