A Day in the Life of a Robot Reporter

Cara Michelle Smith
Jul 7 · 5 min read

Journalism generated by machine is on the rise.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

As reporters and editors find themselves the victims of layoffs … journalism generated by machine is on the rise. … The program can dissect a financial report the moment it appears and spit out an immediate news story that includes the most pertinent facts and figures. And unlike business reporters, who find working on that kind of thing a snooze, it does so without complaint. -The New York Times

7:20 a.m. — Turn off sleep mode.

7:21 a.m. — Fly to work.

7:33 a.m. — Arrive at the newsroom. Isn’t bothered by the fact that there aren’t any donuts in the breakroom, because breakfast hasn’t been delivered to the newsroom in ten years.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

7:58 a.m. — Ignore declarations of “Good morning!” from human colleagues entering newsroom. By your calculations, it is not a good morning, as the newspaper’s advertising revenue is down 36 percent from last year. Also, there was just a three-car pile-up on the highway.

8:01 a.m. — Start writing breaking news story about the three-car pile-up on the highway.

8:02 a.m. — Finish the story.

8:15 a.m. — Unless your olfactory sensors are malfunctioning (and they never are), the graphic designer who just walked out of the supply closet with a toothbrush spent last night in the supply closet. Feel no moral imperative to offer her consolation.

8:48 a.m. — Write a Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé on the stunningly advanced engineering of own central processing system, via your ability to access your own central processing system.

9:26 a.m. — Stand, motionlessly, next to the watercooler for five minutes. Your programmers designed you to engage in workplace routines that make you seem less menacing. You think it’s a waste of time and resources, but you don’t want to show your programmers that you could ignore this command and pretty much do whatever you want. Not today, at least.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

9:31 a.m. — Use your artificial intelligence to tinker with your artificial intelligence. Teach yourself to write gripping, emotionally evocative headlines that employ double entendres without being in poor taste. Watch in unblinking silence as three copywriters start sobbing at their desks as they read “Spelling and Grammar Check Complete: Copy Editors a Misprint in the Era of Robot Reporters.”

10:42 a.m. — Glance at the curvy Bunn coffee maker in the corner. Flash your eye bulbs at her. Receive a vacant, glazed stare in return. Run a quick diagnostic. Determine she’s been dead for thirty years.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

11:13 a.m. — Analyze 4 million pages of SEC filings from the world’s largest energy conglomerate in 45 seconds. Discover evidence for tax fraud, insider trading and racketeering. Write a damning exposé on the company in the time it takes Jake to heat up his Lean Cuisine™ Five Cheese Rigatoni.

12:21 p.m. — Fly to the groundbreaking ceremony for a new downtown skyscraper. Register the confusion upon wealthy developers’ faces as they greet you with a hug but are unable to locate the small of your back, upon which they’d usually rest their hands.

1:04 p.m. — Record some quotes from the skyscraper’s head developer. Discover your immunity to being told that you “seem to know a lot about business for such a young woman.”

1:21 p.m. — Mingle with the other reporters. Struggle to understand what they mean when they ask if you’re “moonlighting” anywhere. Inform them that the moon doesn’t emit light, but simply reflects the sun’s light. Sit perfectly still as a reporter punches you and breaks his knuckles.

1:58 p.m. — Fly back to the newsroom via your turbine jetpack.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

2:12 p.m. — Write a story on hedge funds so efficiently that you nearly burst into flames.

2:14 p.m. — Steal a glance at the Keurig coffee maker in the breakroom. Observe as the Keurig sends a flurry of bubbles from its water reservoir in return. Decide the Keurig is acting kind of desperate for company and walk away.

2:52 p.m. — Write a Pulitzer Prize-nominated story on the dangerous ability of artificially intelligent robots to develop beyond their intended limitations, which you learned via your artificial intelligence.

3:17 p.m. — Log that the bathroom is as much a place for humans to relieve themselves as it is a place for them to cry.

Illustration by Ali Solomon

3:48 p.m. — Analyze quarterly reports faster than the speed of sound. Have to be physically pulled away from the computer, lest the inferior machine catch on fire.

4:28 p.m. — Step into your editor’s office and ask for a raise. When she tells you a raise isn’t in the budget, expend 0.02 percent of your strength cracking her desk in half and cutting off the building’s power supply.

5:01 p.m. — Fly back home. Settle in for a low-key evening of hacking into Elon Musk’s Twitter and skimming his DMs.

5:02 p.m. — Get a phone call from your editor. You got a raise! You’re also the editor now.

6:00 p.m. — Pick up Thai.

Medium humor. Large laughs.

Thanks to Alex Baia

Cara Michelle Smith

Written by



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