Polis, the media and journalism think-tank of London School of Economics and Political Science, publishes the Journalism AI Report, based on a survey of the state of mind and state of play in 71 news organizations from 32 different countries regarding artificial intelligence (AI) and its possible applications to journalism.
A wide range of journalists working with AI have answered questions about their understanding of AI, how it is used in their newsrooms, and their views on the wider potential and risks for the news industry.
The survey discovers that the biggest challenges to adopting AI in newsroom are financial resources and the lack of knowledge and skills.
A great majority of the respondents see literacy vital to change journalistic culture and improve understanding of new tools and systems.
The future impact of AI is uncertain but it has the potential for wide-ranging and profound influence on how journalism is made and consumed. Thus all journalists need specific AI training: “even the ones working closely on AI initiatives –says a respondent- don’t fully understand the technology and, therefore, can’t envision the possibilities”.
Specifically the report detects a shortage of editorial staff with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subject literacy and the ability to reflect on how that relates to existing journalism practice and principles.
Future journalists should have at least a minimum knowledge of the basic tools needed to navigate the new journalistic environment. That means building core competencies around math, data and computer science.
The role of Universities becomes, therefore, fundamental in training future journalists. Besides teaching basic skills, such as coding and understanding data, Universities should be able to foster innovation culture towards a more scientific and social understanding of AI and its impact on users and society. According to the report, Universities’ role is to “demystify the concept of AI, eliminating that perception of the technology as a threat or as a competitor to journalism itself”.