A survey with 233 digital leaders in publishing companies from 32 countries reveals general optimism, concerns as well as predictions regarding the use of Artificial Intelligence in the news industry, according to Reuters Institute´s recent report

When asked “which newsroom uses of AI will be most important in 2020”, different uses are ranked as follows as listed in the report based on participants’ responses:

  1. Creating more effective recommendations
  2. Commercial uses such as using AI to target potential subscribers and optimise paywalls
  3. News use; automation tagging/ transcription/assisted subbing…etc.
  4. Newsgathering
  5. Robo-journalism

In line with the report published by London School of Economics, the majority of respondents in this survey believe that AI presents a whole range of opportunities from which journalism could significantly benefit. Rather than surrendering to the idea that AI can replace journalists, participants highlight how AI handles some journalistic responsibilities instead. By handling tasks related to editing or curation, AI helps reduce journalists’ work load freeing up their schedule for core mission tasks such as revealing facts and “delivering news” as highlighted by a Canadian national newspaper editor.  Other AI uses highlighted in the report include “automated language translation, subtitling, and improved synthesised voice technology” as well as producing “automated stories” based on “financial and sports data”.

On the other hand, lack of sufficient knowledge and skills or fear of the “complexity” of the process, were raised as concerns about the successful adoption of AI in journalism. The interviewed leaders also warned from becoming distracted by AI as a technology trend and losing control over the process; it remains essential to focus on “aligning technology solutions to core strategy”. Further, the report highlights “AI driven fake news” as a possible threat this year.  AI tools have the potential to “boost disinformation campaigns” through producing content that is imitating professional news in different forms (text, video or audio), while intending to mislead.

Hence, thorough scrutiny of the opportunities as well as the threats AI puts forward for the news industry is key in 2020.

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