Filipino journalist creates AI tool to detect stories in government audit reports

Filipino journalist creates AI tool to detect stories in government audit reportsFilipino journalist creates AI tool to detect stories in government audit reports
via GMA Integrated News, Aymanejed
Ryan General
February 19, 2024
A Filipino journalist has created a custom GPT tool to aid investigative reporters in finding potential stories in government audit reports more efficiently. 
About the tool: Veteran journalist Jaemark Tordecilla, a Nieman Foundation Fellow and former editor-in-chief of GMA News Online, recently unveiled the COA Beat Assistant, a custom generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) tailored to parse government audit reports in the Philippines. With it, Tordecilla aims to alleviate the arduous task investigative journalists go through when poring over lengthy documents to uncover instances of mismanagement or corruption.
How it works: The AI tool summarizes the “Significant Audit Observations and Recommendations” section of the reports and prompts journalists with further questions and suggestions. It also allows them to upload other relevant documents from the full report.
Why it matters: For years, journalists in the Philippines have reportedly grappled with deciphering convoluted government audit reports from agencies such as the Commission on Audit (COA). These reports often bury key findings deep within their pages. 
How effective is it: While the current iteration of the COA Beat Assistant remains under development, it has been shown to save journalists significant time and effort. In one case, it helped a journalist quickly identify a potential story about millions of Philippine pesos purportedly being spent by one area on “Gender and Development” initiatives.
The tool, however, has some limitations on how many queries users can submit per month and exhibits some formatting and accuracy issues.
What’s next: According to Tordecilla, the tool could further be improved and even be adapted to work with other types of documents, such as financial statements and legal documents.
“Similar tools could be developed to help newsrooms and reporters deal with financial statements and annual reports from corporations, legal documents, environmental impact assessment reports, procurement and contracting documents…” Tordecilla said. “’Custom GPTs’ could be created for all sorts of corpora of documents to make life easier for investigative journalists.”
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