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Why newsrooms should pay attention to AI

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Artificial intelligence is helping transform many businesses, and journalism is no exception. Newsrooms are already using AI to help organize and find videos and images, transcribe interviews in multiple languages and much more. But the industry  is still trying to understand the full impact AI can have.  

Today, we are releasing a report which highlights how AI offers new powers to journalists across the reporting process, from news gathering to distribution. It also underlines how news organizations that want to explore this potential must be ready to consider and carefully monitor the ethical and editorial implications of these new technologies.

This research is the result of Journalism AI, a year-long collaboration between Polis, the international journalism think tank at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the Google News Initiative, to educate newsrooms about the potential offered by AI-powered technologies through research, training and networking.

Newsrooms around the world are experimenting with AI, and responses to the Journalism AI survey came from 71 media organizations in 32 countries. Publishers, editors and reporters shared their detailed thoughts on the potential of AI for the news industry, how it is impacting their organizations and the risks and challenges involved with this new wave of technological innovation. 

The findings make it clear that journalism should pay attention to AI, which has the potential for wide-ranging and profound influence on how journalism is made and consumed. 

Journalism and AI

On one side, AI technologies promise to free up time for journalists to work on the more creative aspects of the news production, leaving tedious and repetitive tasks to machines. At a time when the news industry is fighting for economic sustainability and for the public’s trust, it’s easy to see why this promise is highly attractive.

On the other side, via personalization and smart recommendations, AI can help the public cope with news overload, connecting them in a convenient way to credible content that is relevant, useful, and stimulating for their lives.

Newsrooms vary in their AI strategies and implementations, the challenges they’ve experienced and the way it’s changing the way they work and how they approach their business structure. 

Overall, respondents are optimistic about the positive impact that AI can bring, as long as journalists retain their ethical and editorial values and adapt to the new challenges—such as algorithmic bias and the rise of so-called “deepfakes,” in which AI is used to create fake images or videos and pass them as real. 

The report also warns against the risk of perceiving AI simply as a way to cut costs, and that it should instead be used to benefit the people who produce the journalism we consume. There are also significant concerns about a growing divide between large organizations with the resources to take advantage of the potential offered by AI, and smaller ones that risk being left behind.

With AI, the news industry has an opportunity to continue to reinvent itself for the information needs and behavior of people in our data-driven era. But with these new powers come responsibilities to maintain quality, increase editorial diversity and promote transparency of the systems they create. 

Take a read through the Journalism AI report to see the full findings of how media organizations view AI, and what’s next for the industry. 

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