We're a little late noticing this, but on Sept. 6, MGP2006 participant Adrian Holovaty posted a really insightful essay about the fallacy of the "story" as the dominant way to present news information. He argues that the elements of many stories can be atomized as entries in data fields and that can yield some stunningly neat results in terms of repurposing the information at other times. This begins to raise the question in my mind -- why isn't someone working on a system for writing news stories by computer? By this I mean that a reporter might enter the facts of a routine crime story, or a government meeting, into a web form that contains fields for key facts that carry across all meetings -- such as the board meeting, the board members present, the topic discussed, how long it was disussed, what the vote was, and quotes and statements sorted by topic. All of these could be in databases which could be part of a national or world network which would allow a remarkable degree of relationship building around topics or issues. It could illuminate important safety or social trends that we don't see today because doing the research to find such connections is prohibitively expensive. It also could allow "citizens" to write news stories on a form-filling basis. Now that sounds like a real comedown from traditional reporting. But it's better than nothing, and it could free up experienced reporters to write stories that involve significant analysis and insight -- of the sort programmers can't yet teach a computer to do. Thoughts?