AI in Journalism: How Can Journalists Benefit?

Photo Credit: Reuter Institute Illustration generated by the Midjourney 5.2 text-to-image model, using the prompt “An abstract image representing the uncertain future of digital journalism in the age of artificial intelligence.”

I still remember vividly when Prue Clarke, co-founder and executive director for New Narratives, asked during a Workshop in 2022 about ChatGPT, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbot that helps users by giving commands. 

“What are you thinking about ChatGPT,” she asked the participants. 

We hurriedly rushed to Google to check the model and type in words and the results were impressive. But I was not the only person in the training who had just heard about ChatGPT, or AI. Many of us were new to technology. 

“Wow, this is magic,” I shouted. 

AI is a computer science that deals with creating systems that can replicate human intelligence and solve problems. ChatGPT is an AI chatbot that was developed by OpenAI in 2022. It learns by analyzing a massive amount of data often sourced online. 

ChatGPT and other models of AI are impacting many professions and journalism is no exception. From editing, content generation, video editing and creation, translation, transcription, and image generation, AI is impacting journalism.

A model is a program that has been trained on a set of data to recognize certain patterns or make certain decisions without further human intervention. They apply different algorithms to relevant data inputs to achieve the tasks or output they’ve been programmed for.

“AI is indeed enhancing journalism in several ways,” said Helen Sammie, Publisher of the Women Voices Newspaper. “Especially through its ability to process and analyze data quickly and accurately.” 

She says AI can assist journalists with investigative reporting, data analysis, and fact-checking.

However, Sammie says, there are also major threats associated with AI in journalism. “One, amongst many I believe is the spread of misinformation, where AI-generated content is used to deceive or manipulate the public.”

“Though this has not gotten to our end (Liberia), another threat is the potential loss of jobs. As AI becomes more advanced, there is a risk that certain roles traditionally performed by journalists could be automated.”

The AI model assists in automating tasks, such as generating news articles from structured data causing journalists to save time, and resources. It enhances journalism workloads by automating routine tasks, analyzing large datasets for insights, and even generating content.

“Journalists can learn from AI’s efficiency in processing information,” Robin Dopoe, former Editor of the Daily Observer Newspaper, said.

Dopoe warned that journalists should prioritize human judgment, cultural context, and ethical considerations to maintain the quality and relevance of their reporting. 

According to him, trust in AI can be built through transparency, explainable, and constant human oversight while implementing ethical guidelines and diverse training data helps mitigate biases and ensures reliable AI-driven news sources.

“AI will personalize news recommendations, streamline content creation, and facilitate faster distribution,” he added. 

Though AI presents an opportunity for journalists to leverage news gathering, publication, and distribution, many warned about ethical standards. For instance, one can simply type “What is Journalism” and a whole paragraph will pop up without stating who authored it.

Other challenges include algorithmic bias and potential filter bubbles, influencing what information reaches users, and copyright issues. 

Plagiarism has been one of the concerns of many. AI-generated content does not give links to sources or individuals who previously authored the content. 

“AI-generated news involves implementing robust content verification mechanisms, using human editors for oversight, and continuously refining AI models to prevent unintentional replication of existing content,” Dopoe added.