Artificial Intelligence: A new challenge to online journalism

AI begins to grow its roots deeper into the vast field of Journalism

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) is an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans or even better than them. Among various industries, AI is spreading its horizons in Journalism as well. Journalism, that is also known as the Fourth Estate of the democracy can face AI related consequences in the near future.

Automated news writing and distribution without human guidance is somewhat a reality nowadays. Many media organisations are using robots to deliver information to their readers. Putting AI into the context of media brings out a development in the new media and it also augments the newsroom of the organisation.  

Last year, China’s Xinhua state news agency used a life-like robotic news anchor that imitated human facial expressions and behaviour to present a story about delegates who attended an annual parliament meeting held in Beijing. The AI anchor has the ability to read a text and simulate a video of a news anchor speaking. Critics have raised questions on whether Xinhua’s anchor can even be considered true AI, because it cannot actually think, nor does it have any apparent decision-making features.

There are three ways in which AI is changing the practice of journalism:

Automatic Report routine: With the use of AI, journalism has rapidly expanded its coverage. It can also be used to summarize long articles into short bite-sized articles for digital platforms. 

Fast Insights: AI has the ability to react instantly on real-time data with the outline of the story. 

Reducing barriers to entry: AI can eliminate the presence of human elements in the content creation process; however, it also allows journalists to create videos from text and pictures within a second.

AI has already been an integral part of our lives. Be it the new facial recognition software in upcoming IOS and Android gadgets, or AI program to have the potential to detect cancer. AI is acquiring place almost everywhere.

There are some media organisations that are using AI in their newsrooms: 

  • Press Association: A British news agency, Press Association, has built a software which creates 30,000 stories in a month automatically by gathering information on its own. Google has provided the company with Rs. 5 crores to create a software named “RADAR” (Reporter And Data And Robots) which creates automatic local reports with the help of databases from law enforcement and governmental agencies. Radar is a news service that brings human reporters and technology together to scale up news production.
  • “Soccerbot” is another automatic report system used in North Korea by their news agency Yonhap which produces football related news.
  • Many renowned organisations like Thomson Reuters and Associated Press use machine learning algorithms for writing news stories.
  • New York Times is using Google’s AI to expand online comments with an advanced tool designed to fight internet trolls.

Challenges of Artificial Intelligence in Media 

As AI begins to grow its roots deeper into the vast field of Journalism there are few challenges that needs to be addressed. 

Machines work best when data is available in large quantity. Without the appropriate amount of data availability, the ability of AI becomes finite. The solution is to develop and implement such structure to ensure that whatever is being shared online is authentic. 

It can also summarize big articles in bit size for the digital media content, which will also liberate journalist and reporters to tackle more advanced work. AI also acts as a helping hand for journalists which can share the workload. AI is able to improve the quality of the articles and may also attract readers from abroad.

The prime issue here is that leading media houses can develop their own AI programmes, but the small media houses or start-ups cannot afford that as AI is expensive.

Despite few challenges discussed above, many developers are optimistic about this technology.     For some companies it might be a source of profit gaining, for some it might be a source of gaining worldwide readership. It has also been predicted that within 15 years, 90% of the articles will be written by AI.


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