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Sportswriting Is Monkey Business

Thanks to a partnership between journalists and techies, writing a sports game story may become as easy as pushing a button.

Last spring graduate students John Templon (GJ09), a sportswriter with a physics background, and Nick Allen (GJ09), a computer scientist turned journalist, developed StatsMonkey, a computer program that can automatically write a game recap based only on a particular game's box score and play-by-play information.

Writing under the byline "The Machine," StatsMonkey algorithms capture the general flow of a game and highlight important plays and players. Then the system makes a series of "intelligent decisions" about the character of the game using the numerical data and selects the appropriate narrative arc or arcs.

StatsMonkey is one of the first prototypes developed by the Center for Innovation in Technology, Media and Journalism, a collaboration between the Medill School of Journalism and the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

— Robbie Levin (J12)

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