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Readers' perception of computer-generated news: Credibility, expertise, and readability

: Graefe, Andreas; Haim, Mario; Haarmann, Bastian; Brosius, Hans-Bernd


Journalism 19 (2018), No.5, pp.595-610
ISSN: 1464-8849 (Print)
ISSN: 1741-3001 (Online)
Journal Article
Fraunhofer FKIE ()

We conducted an online experiment to study people’s perception of automated computer-written news. Using a 2 × 2 × 2 design, we varied the article topic (sports, finance; within-subjects) and both the articles’ actual and declared source (human-written, computer-written; between-subjects). Nine hundred eighty-six subjects rated two articles on credibility, readability, and journalistic expertise. Varying the declared source had small but consistent effects: subjects rated articles declared as human written always more favorably, regardless of the actual source. Varying the actual source had larger effects: subjects rated computer-written articles as more credible and higher in journalistic expertise but less readable. Across topics, subjects’ perceptions did not differ. The results provide conservative estimates for the favorability of computer-written news, which will further increase over time and endorse prior calls for establishing ethics of computer-written news.