Did a robot repor­ter screw up the AP’s Netflix earnings story?


Well, for star­ters, the reason behind the discre­pancy is likely due to the fact that Netflix recently split its stock 7-for-1. That means that the company issued six new shares for each share of exis­ting stock, making each indi­vi­dual share worth only one-seventh as much. So if analysts had expec­ted Netflix to earn 32 cents a share before the stock split, divi­ding those esti­mates by 7 would mean that the analysts were expec­ting about 4 cents of earnings per share of the new Netflix stock.

Maybe a repor­ter for the AP messed up the math on Netflix, using the old, pre-split esti­mates instead of the correct, post-split ones.

But there’s another possi­bi­lity: maybe a robot is to blame.

Last year, the AP struck a deal with a company called Auto­ma­ted Insights, which makes auto­ma­ted repor­ting soft­ware that can write certain types of stories without human assis­tance. Among the things Auto­ma­ted Insights’ soft­ware can do is write simple corpo­rate earnings stories, using numbers it pulls in from an auto­ma­ted feed. The AP now publishes more than 3,000 earnings stories per quar­ter with Auto­ma­ted Insights’ help.

— Sur Fusion

La diffu­sion brute des dépêches AFP et des commu­niqués de presse c’était déjà se tirer une balle dans le pied, mais le jour­na­lisme auto­ma­tique par des robots, ça devient vrai­ment déses­pé­rant. Même sans parler des erreurs : Quelle est la valeur ajou­tée ? Où est la mise en contexte et l’ana­lyse ?


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