June 15, 2023 Lucas Ho

AI and the future of news-gathering and journalism

In the future, will all news be reported by artificial intelligences?

Image designed in Midjourney AI

A article recently published in the Economist in May 2023 noted the rising use of artificial intelligence (AI) in journalism: while the use of automation in news-reporting was not necessarily a newfangled affair, AI has been deployed for “‘event detection’, scanning social media for ripples of news”, and are getting more adept at “the writing and editing” of news articles. 

A month earlier, in April 2023. a journalist writing in The Observer put out a call for freelance journalists to pitch him feature ideas. One particular submission caught his eye: “while coherent, the pitches had a bland authority about them, repetitive paragraph structure, and featured upbeat endings”. Suspicious, he asked the person who submitted if AI had generated those pitches, and the person admitted that his pitch was “indeed generated with the assistance of AI technology.” The upshot of this is perhaps that positive outcomes of AI in journalism depend on the responsibility and ethical positioning of the journalists wielding the technology. 

These two pieces were however much less alarmist that the journalists profiled in this VOA Africa piece, some of whom struck the tone that “artificial intelligence is a threat to authentic journalism and poses further risk on credibility and integrity”. And, in a recent Financial Times article, Barry Diller, one of the founders of Fox Broadcasting, proclaimed that AI would be “destructive” to journalism. 

It would thus seem that the journalism fraternity is at best skeptical towards AI, and at worst deeply disturbed at its potentially fatal effect on news gathering and reporting. Their pessimism may at first seem misplaced: hasn’t AI in fact sped up the collection and organisation of information and data, and hasn’t AI also accelerated the analysis of said data to more quickly identify newsworthy trends? 

The automated generation of news articles – the writing and editing of the first draft of history, as it were – is perhaps where many journalists get rightly rankled. AI and large language models (LLMs) can quickly churn out ready-made news pieces for mass consumption, but what place do the time-tested journalistic processes of checking sources, and refining and editing have in this new age of AI-driven reporting?

In his book “Newsmakers: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Journalism”, Francesco Marconi notes that the media and content industries are becoming “an arena for story-enabling, not just storytelling.” It is perhaps this paradigmatic shift which is required to ride the rapid pace of development.

Likewise, here at Immedia Content, we seek to be a key enabler of your storytelling and content creation needs. Contrend – our proprietary content analytic system – is tuned to specifically identify trends, and more importantly gaps, in your specific content landscape; be it topic, style, format, genre, tone, style or length. We balance proprietary AI/ML technology, with editorial wisdom to make sure your copy and your articles aren’t simply churned out by a chatbot, and land where they are intended without any equivocation.

We know data is not the destination, and that information doesn’t organise itself. Immedia can create a targeted and bespoke content strategy to open new marketing frontiers for you. We’re ready to talk anytime! Drop us an email at admin@immediacontent.com.