Reading coverage on the RNC? It might be coming from bots

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Jamelle Bouie/Flickr
The Republican National Convention already seems to have solidified its position as the most dramatic political event in recent memory — and yes, that’s saying a lot. From accusations of plagiarism to a speaker lineup that reads more like a who’s who of reality television than the American political system, there’s a lot to cover at the 2016 RNC. And at both the Washington Post and Buzzfeed, some of that coverage is coming from bots.

While the two publications may seem like rather dissimilar outlets with disparate readerships, both seem to have recognized the value in utilizing bot technology to cover the highly buzzed-about convention. The Washington Post’s bot will work with Twitter and Double Robotics, to provide a live stream of the goings-on in Cleveland by way of Periscope. Moreover, readers (or rather, viewers) will be able to ask questions about the convention through a Periscope chat.

“We’re excited to experiment with a new way to bring Post readers into the convention action, giving them an on-the-ground perspective as if they were there themselves,” said Jeremy Gilbert, Director of Strategic Initiatives for The Washington Post.

Niketa Patel, News Partnerships Manager at Twitter, added, “Viewers across the globe will be able to see the sights and sounds that convention-goers & delegates will be experiencing first-hand. By combining live-streaming from Periscope with on-the-ground storytelling and interaction, this will no doubt be the beginning of this robot’s memorable journey.”

As for Buzzfeed, the online media company is introducing “a really cool little news bot” called BuzzBot. Promising to gather rather than push news (or actually, do both), the machine will “tag along with everyone, all the time, everywhere they go.”

Said Buzzfeed about their bot, “It’s not only going to tell you funny, interesting, and insightful stuff (although it will). It’s also going to ask questions. Those queries may be different, depending on whether you’re a convention-goer, a protester, or watching along at home. And it will use those reactions and inbound information to inform BuzzFeed News’ reporting.” And because the BuzzBot is open-source, you may one day be able to use the bot in other venues for other events. And here’s how you can get and use it.

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