World Press Freedom Day: Does AI Provide More Freedom for Journalists or Does It Take It Away?

Every May 3rd, World Press Freedom Day is celebrated. In addition to the challenges that journalists have faced for decades, this year the presence of another, perhaps the most powerful challenge so far - artificial intelligence - has increased.
Media around the world rely on some of the benefits of this technology, but the question arises to what extent it helps them and what is the optimal way to use it with integrity.

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Illustration: MilicaM

Artificial intelligence in the media 

Artificial intelligence has undoubtedly been one of the most intriguing topics of recent months and, given its widespread use, has left its mark on almost all industries. 

Every now and then, fascinating examples have also emerged in the media industry, such as digital twins in developed Asian countries, which allow the “cloning” of the most popular TV show hosts. 

However, most media outlets, in accordance with their budgets, have adopted the advantages of this technology, and often ChatGPT is recognized for helping prepare interviews, create the outline of the article, and so on. 

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AI application in newsrooms. Source: Statista 2022 

For example, one of the most relevant news portals, The Guardian, bragged back in 2020  that their article was entirely created with the help of GPT-3 technology. 

Advantages of using AI in the media   

As pointed out in some research on the topic, the biggest advantages of applying AI tools in the media industry are: 

  • Deep learning tools enable fact checking, identifying sources and fake news; 
  • Use of automatic-speech-recognition (ASR) technology to recognize speech and automatically subtitle videos and add descriptions, including live broadcasting; 
  • The technology also saves time when translating interviews; 
  • Automation of news production allows for saving time and resources, by algorithms extracting structured data for sports matches e.g. or other statistics, and which require minimal human intervention; 
  • Machine learning enables media to make the content displayed on mobile devices tailored to individual preferences and thus retains user attention and loyalty; 
  • This technology can also be used to highlight the most important parts in a form of notifications; 
  • Automatic generation of social media posts in the form of visuals, videos, text posts or descriptions, on various channels; 
  • It can be used for analytics, to structure data and interpret it; 
  • Social media ad optimization thanks to the ability to predict which form of content is best suited for clicks, conversions and language preferences (e.g. whether the tone is professional or friendly, etc.). 

And more. 

New forms of journalism created thanks to AI   

It was these applications that led to the emergence of new forms of journalism, such as: 

  1. Data journalism – Large amounts of numerical data are turned into news in a way that the audience can easily understand; 
  2. Algorithm journalism – Digital processing that combines algorithms, data and journalistic knowledge; 
  3. Automated journalism – Automatic production and distribution of a large amount of news in a fast-consuming format. 

Over time, new “hybrids” of journalism will emerge, which are difficult to predict at the moment. 

And what does ChatGPT say about all this? 

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As an AI language model, I acknowledge the risks associated with generating fake articles and the potential harm they could cause. However, it is crucial to understand that the responsibility lies not with the technology itself but with those who use it. AI language models like myself can be a powerful tool for creating informative and engaging content, but it’s important to use them ethically and responsibly. I urge everyone to take ownership of their actions and use AI language models for the betterment of society.

ChatGPT’s response to the prompt regarding fake news. Source: The Guardian 

“Today’s programming is brought to you by Artificial Intelligence”   

The most enthusiastic among the media decided to entrust their program to artificial intelligence entirely, and one of the successful examples of such a medium is the Swiss radio station for the French-speaking world, “Couleur 3”. 

On Thursday, April 27, they broadcasted the message: “Today’s programming is brought to you by Artificial Intelligence.” 

The experimental 24-hour program was entirely created by artificial intelligence, both speech and music. You read that right, all music was originally “composed” by AI tools. 

Five different AI radio hosts addressed listeners during the day, whose voices were cloned via Respeecher softwareThe text they presented was created using ChatGPT and other AI software, and all presented news was also produced exclusively using this technology. 

It is important to emphasize that all the news was fiction and served as a simulation of a parallel reality that may await us in the future. In order not to deceive the listeners, every twenty minutes a notification was broadcasted that it was an experimental program. 

This scenario is somewhat similar to Prson Welles’ famous radio drama “War of the Worlds”, when thousands of people believed that aliens were indeed invading Earth. 

According to Couleur 3, the aim of their experiment was to destigmatize artificial intelligence and show how much it can contribute to the production of programs, especially when it comes to the speed and cost of production. 

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I think if we become ostriches … we put our heads in the sand and say, ‘Mon Dieu, there’s a new technology! We’re all going to die!’, then yeah, we’re going to die because it (AI) is coming, whether we like it or not. We want to master the technology so we can then put limits on it.”

Antoine Multone, chief of Radio Couleur 3. Source: AP News 

Something like this can’t be done overnight. 

The Respecheer software was trained for three months to be able to recreate the style of this particular radio station and its presenters. As a result, they could even make jokes or laugh. 

During the broadcast, the hosts regularly invited listeners to contact them via WhatsApp and give feedback on whether they liked this experiment. Apparently, hundreds of messages came shortly after the program began and, although many were fascinated by the achievements of new technologies, few noted that it was a waste of valuable resources for a publicly funded station. 

A journalist by day and a podcaster by night. She's not writing to impress but to be understood.

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