Dr. Pradeep Mahapatra
Collins Dictionary identified ‘Artificial Intelligence’ as the ‘Word of the Year for 2023’. It signifies that the word was most prominently used in day-to-day conversatation among the people during the period. The emerging technology casted its spell over various aspects of journalism. In the developed nations AI infrastructure were built throughout the year in the media ecosystem. Public launch of generative artificial intelligence product “ChatGPT” on the last date of November 2022 considered to be the beginning of a new era in computing worldwide.
In the international field the front runner media platforms were acquainted with AI much before its appearance in the public domain and used as per need. ‘London School of Economics’ conducted a survey among 71 news platforms spread over 32 nations during 2019 to ascertain AI use. It was found out that about half the news platforms used AI for news gathering, two-thirds took help for news product production and half for circulation management. In general the technology was used to collect content from the social media posts, investigative reporting and analysis of data collected from multiple sources.
Wide use of ‘ChatGPT’ by the end of 2023 estimated that about 90 percent of leading news organisations opted for use of AI tools. In the developed nations use of AI in media from 66 percent to 90 percent during a period of five years appears to be a significant achievement. As developing nations follow the media trends popular in the developed nations, the emerging technology may enter the mainstream journalism in the countries like India within two-to-three years, latest by 2025. A Germany company ‘express.de’ released an AI tool to the market ‘Klara Indernach’ during 2023. “Klara is a sophisticated tool that structure texts, conduct extensive content research and summarise vast amounts of information quickly and efficiently. These capabilities greatly ensure the speed and scope of content creation.”
Questions arise whether technologies like ‘Klara’ can be used in India and various regional language newsrooms ? Use of AI tools in journalism can easily overcome the barriers of language. Government of India sponsored Bhasini and Google have assured that during 2024 translation from English into regional languages of the country and vice-versa will reach upto 90 percent accuracy. Such facilities will ensure easy use of AI tools to generate and distribute content in various regional languages. Small and medium newspapers and social media video channels may greatly benefit from such innovations to manage their small newsrooms effectively apart from the big players.
News platforms both print and video, faced tough times to create images, illustrations and infographics. It needed time, expertise and finance. AI tools can help in the design process. Similarly AI powered audio transcription can help for speech-to-text task to prepare a text copy of an interview instantly during gathering of news for reporting. Voice generators like ‘VG’s Jojo’ helps for editing, publishing and sharing audio content across different platforms.
Social media posts have turned to be the main source for gathering of hyper-local news. But it demand thorough fact-check before publication in news platforms. AI algorithms can rapidly cross-check data. It can also validate information from different sources. AI investigative and data analysis tools help in reducing the amount of time and efforts in the research process. At times such tools help to uncover patterns and hidden connections across documents.
Experts estimated that by the end of 2023 about 70 AI tools were available for various uses in newsrooms. Apart from content production, lead generation tools “provide advance notice of trends, developing stories, or with leads on breaking news. These tools can help journalists identify trending topics and potential sources on the scene.” Audience engagement tools “focus on collecting data and moderating audience interactions and comments.” Distribution tools “allow a single piece of content to be shared in multiple languages or formats. Distribution tools can turn written content into audio, video or images and vice versa or automate their distribution across many social media platforms.”
AI tools for journalism are marked as evolving technology. Traditional technologies relied upon systems where output were same every time. On the otherhand, “unlike the traditional software, we do not always have insight into how AI systems arrive at their conclusion or factors involved.” Thus use of AI tools in journalism demands caution. For example, direct streaming of speeches from a meeting is possible, but at the same time errors may also occur in translation. “AI tools may produce harmful outputs either unintentionally or through targeted attacks. While traditional software can suffer for similar vulnerabilities, the risk is amplified for AI tools.” Such elements “justify the need for additional attention and governance when newsrooms adopt AI tools.”
However, a MIT study published in acclaimed journal Science in its December 2023 edition informed that in an experiment conducted among 453 college educated professionals it was found out that writers who chose to use ‘ChatGPT’ took 40 percent less time to complete a task and scored 18 percent higher quality than that of the participants who did not use it. Such research findings uncover great expectations on use of AI tools for journalism.
(English translation of the original Odia newsletter by the author circulated on December 22, 2023. https://tinyletter.com/pradeepmahapatra/letters/message-332. It is an open-access content, free for translation and reproduction)
Dr. Pradeep Mahapatra is a retired faculty of Journalism, Berhampur University, Odisha.https://about.me/pradeepmahapatra
AI adoption for newsrooms: A 10 step guide
10 ways journalists use AI tools in the newsroom. TWIPE. October 5, 2023