09 Sep 2023
Associated Press collabs with Lede AI to launch Knight-funded AI tool to automate police report production
A months-long collaborative AI development project between Lede AI and the Associated Press finally saw the light of day in mid-August at the annual Online News Association conference in Philadelphia.
Lede AI was excited to be at ONA in person to meet folks and also learn about the other 4 projects, which were all developed in collaboration between the AP and university students.
Lede AI was the only commercial vendor involved in a project.
Automating police reports… to a point
The code developed for all five projects will all be open-sourced and available for anyone to build on top of and adapt to their needs.
The work we did uses natural language generation to automate the process of preparing police blotter reports for editing and final production. A collaborative team from Lede AI, the AP, the Brainard Dispatch and students at the University of Missouri School of Journalism worked hand-in-glove to deliver the project.
“For years we have been manually going through Brainerd area police blotters and pulling information from them, formatting them and publishing them — a process that can be extremely time consuming. It is our hope that by using AI we can more quickly select and upload the information we wish to publish and save ourselves up to hours of time a week in the process.”
-Matt Erickson Editor, Brainard Dispatch
Renee Richardson of the Brainard Dispatch was quoted in the AP’s presentation as saying, “Reporters are constantly tasked with doing more and more, but rarely are they given more time. This use of AI does just that. It gives them time back in their day to work on all the other aspects of their jobs, from adding video to taking photos, adding links and social media, to covering multiple beats and getting to more stories.”
A human in the loop
The subjects of a police report usually just had one of the worst days of their lives, and there’s reason to be careful with information received from law enforcement. It’s one side of a story which often won’t flesh itself out until much later.
For those reasons, the project scope was to remove the clerical work of producing the report, but stop well short of publication.
Download the full AP presentation deck and read more about the AP’s initiative to support local news adoption of AI.
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