A total of 329 print, digital and radio outlets across the UK are now using stories generated by Radar, the Press Association’s automated news service.

Almost two years on from receiving a grant from Google’s Digital News Initiative (DNI) to develop such a service, and following trials, the news agency has revealed that five regional news publishers – Archant, Baylis Media, JPI Media, Iliffe Media and MNA Media – have signed up as paying subscribers, along with local radio station operator UKRD Group, owned by Bauer Media; also signed up are the Caerphilly Observer and Newscraft.

Radar (Reporters And Data And Robots) sees a team of six journalists “identify, write and template” stories using open data from official sources, including government departments, police forces, health services and other public bodies, which technology in the form of natural language generation software then localises to local authority level.

Examples of the sort of stories it has created include ones based on crime statistics, hospital waiting times and school absences, Press Gazette reported.

Publishers can subscribe to one or more of 391 channels – one for each local authority in the UK.

Gary Rogers, editor-in-chief of Radar, said: “Radar has evolved from a Google-backed experiment in data journalism to a subscription-based business providing an essential service to local and regional media in the UK.

“Our model makes the service equally accessible to small hyperlocals and larger operations with many titles to cover.”

The pilot testing, he added, had given useful insights into how Radar content could be integrated into publishers’ workflows.

“We remain in conversation with all those partners to see where we can make Radar a permanent part of their offering, and for current subscribers, to create more features that add value to the service in our next phase of development.”

Press Association editor-in-chief Peter Clifton has previously rejected the suggestion he is seeking to replace reporters with robots, explaining that Radar produces localised stories at scale, something that wasn’t possible before, and brings an additional layer to what the organisation offers.

Sourced from Press Gazette; additional content by WARC staff