PA to use ‘robot’ reporters – what now journalism jobs in the automated age?

The Press Association heralded a new phase of mechanised journalism in the UK with this week’s announcement that it will use ‘robot’ reporters to add to coverage of sport, business and elections.

The national reporting agency will augment its existing reportage, in the next few months, by offering ‘an extra level when it comes to short market reports, election results and football reporting,’ its editor-in-chief, Pete Clifton, told the Society of Editors conference.

According to the Press Gazette, Clifton told delegates the new service would work in a similar way to that used by Denmark’s national reporting agency, which produces hundreds of additional market reports a month with ‘robot’ journalists piecing together these simple stories.

Robot reporters might seem like something plucked from the pages of satirical science fiction, but their use is already very real. (more…)

Bob Dylan’s Nobel win: a victory and failure in one

Predictable scorn has been poured on the choice of Bob Dylan as this year’s winner of the Nobel prize laureate for literature.

One high-profile critic of the decision was writer Irving Welsh (a Dylan fan). He said he considered it an ‘ill conceived nostalgia award’ for someone whose best work is long behind them. Really? Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter, the most recent British winners, both won many decades after their masterworks. Like Dylan, both had continued to plough their own idiosyncratic furrows, but their major works were behind them by the time they were recognised. (more…)

As BlackBerry ceases production, Google re-enters handset race

There was a time, not long ago, when owning a BlackBerry was the mark of a serious professional – someone who was always on, always reachable – well, not any more…

As other firms accelerated their development of business-friendly smartphones, BlackBerry stood still. So it will have come as little surprise to anyone who has followed its fortunes that the ailing technology company intends to no longer make handsets and instead focus on developing software. (more…)

Generation Collaborate: can your business adapt for closer co-operation?

As baby boomers move into retirement, a new generation of workers is bringing in fresh perspectives and expectations that will impact how businesses operate and, ultimately, how they perform – so, are you ready for Generation Collaborate?

While the cliché is that Millennials represent an entitled generation, the truth is they actually want to earn and get on in the workplace – and as Fortune points out, this might have something to do with them graduating to the workplace at the deepest part of a recession.

Now, as the first wave of Millennials moves into management, they are being joined at work, in junior positions, by members of Generation Z – those born from the mid-1990s – and the combination of these two groups of digital natives is having a profound effect on workplace values. (more…)

Why the Bake Off move is great news for C4

The general tenor of the debate around the move of The Great British Bake Off from BBC to Channel 4 is that it is a travesty, equivalent to Love Productions selling the Crown Jewels. Bizarrely, even former Channel 4 CEO (and ex-BBC Chairman) Michael Grade has lambasted C4’s behaviour and warned that it was likely to hasten full privatisation.

As the prospect of C4’s privatisation has been on the cards for at least ten years, this seems a red herring. Surely, if it is going to be sold off, it needs to be commercially strong, and so the question should be: does buying Bake Off make commercial sense? (more…)

Flexible working: the way to keep staff happy and boost productivity?

Talk to media executives about the major challenge brought about by the digital economy and some will talk about securing lines of revenue with new tech products while others will fret over replacing print revenues with online display.

How many, do you think, will worry about how their firm adapts internal practises to suit the next generation of employees and, in turn, to help it secure the best talent?

Well, if the findings of recent reports by EY, Deloitte, and PWC are accurate, then perhaps more should. (more…)

The unbelievable economics & employment practices of football

Football continues to blaze a trail in the world of unbelievable employment practices.

It’s a world where those seen as failures by many fans continue to get plum jobs, where a manager who has never won any significant silverware can become England boss, and where players are bought and sold with valuations that absolutely defy logic.

Here’s an example: today, Manchester United announced that Paul Pogba would be joining them.  They are spending £89m on a player who left them for £800,000 only four years ago. In any other industry, this would be insane; but Man U are not alone. My club, Chelsea, seems keen to pay £60m for Lukaku, a player they sold for £28m only two years ago. And they have history here: in 1997 they bought Graeme LeSaux for £5m, having sold him for £700,000 a few years earlier. In 2015, Chelsea paid £23m for Matic, a player they had swapped four years earlier for a valuation of £3m.

The whole thing is indicative of a Premiership micro-economy which has no relationship with the wider travails of the last eight years. Average wages in the UK have increased from around £15,000 to £25,000 (a 67% increase) since 2000, with inflation pretty much in line. The average salary of first team players in the Premier League has gone from £410,000 in 2,000 to around £2m per year (with bonuses) in 2014/15– an increase of over 400%. (more…)

Why has Verizon paid $4.8bn for Yahoo?

So Verizon has been at it again: bagging a former digital behemoth for a fraction of its peak market value in the hope that some of the old magic remains.

Last year, it bought AOL for $4.4bn – a tiny percentage of the company’s peak valuation of $160bn – and then last week, it bought Yahoo for $4.8bn.

To put that in perspective, Microsoft offered $45bn for the business in 2008, but was turned down by the Yahoo’s then management on the basis that the business was worth much more. Way to go, as they say in Silicon Valley. (more…)

How Pokémon Go brings augmented reality to mainstream (and main street) businesses

In less than a month since launch, Pokémon Go, the location-based, augmented reality game for mobiles, has become a phenomenon and a record breaker.

It’s the fastest game to ever top the App Store and GooglePlay. In its first week became the most downloaded app of all time, and it’s also become the most actively played mobile game in the US ever.

In under four weeks, the game has been made available in 35 countries and has more than doubled the share value of Nintendo, which made the original Pokémon game in the 1990s, to $42bn.

That’s incredible, not only for the sheer escalation, but because Nintendo doesn’t even produce the new game. It’s made by Niantic, of which Nintendo owns a share and from which it receives a licensing fee. (more…)

What does Brexit mean for our various media sectors?

It’s only two weeks since the EU referendum and media businesses and their employees are still trying to get their heads around what Brexit might mean for the economy, and for the media industry in particular. The economic and political ramifications of the vote are likely to affect us all from years to come, and it’s too early to accurately say what might happen, but in our conversations with business leaders across the media sector a broad picture is starting to build up. (more…)