The Los Angeles Times was the first publication to report the story of Monday’s earthquake thanks to a robot writer.
Journalist and programmer Ken Schwencke created an algorithm that automatically generates a short article when an earthquake occurs.
Ken Schwencke told Slate magazine that it took around three minutes for the story to appear online.
“Robo-journalism” is increasingly being used in newsrooms worldwide.
The LA Times is a pioneer in the technology which draws on trusted sources – such as the US Geological Survey (USGS) – and places data into a pre-written template.
As well as the earthquake report, it also uses another algorithm to generate stories about crime in the city – with human editors deciding which ones need greater attention.
Other news organizations have experimented with algorithm-based reporting methods in other areas, particularly sports.
The generated story does not replace the journalist, Ken Schwencke argued, but instead allows available data to be quickly gathered and disseminated.