Can AI Save Local Media?
A new report looks at the impact AI can have on local outlets.
You might just have noticed that there has been rather a lot of talk about AI since the start of the year. (The above image was created using Dall-E, an AI image generator.) One part of the discussion is what it all means for media. Are robots going to replace reporters?
Publications like Buzzfeed and CNET have experimented with AI-produced copy. In the latter case, it did not end well. And what about already cash-strapped local media? Are owners going to use AI as a way to cut costs further i.e. fire journalists? The team at Media Voices have taken a deep dive into some of the issues in a new report, published today.
Lead author Peter Houston told me:
The biggest learning for me in researching and writing the report was that for now at least, we all still have jobs. AI is not magic, it can't think, investigate or empathise. Smart publishers will use these technologies to automate repetitive, time-consuming tasks and give reporters back the time they need to add real value.
Phew! Journalists still have jobs! There is much else to take away from the report, which you can read here. There will also be a special episode of the Media Voices podcast going out tomorrow (Wednesday, April 12.)
One thing that I found interesting is the report said that “it may be helpful to view a practical AI setup as similar to a commercial newswire service, but working exclusively in-house.” Essentially, AI can provide the core information, but further production and editing will still be required to get the story into the right shape for a specific audience.
Furthermore, the report explains that “with enough training, AI will take raw data and produce individual texts that can be automatically distributed through established publishing systems. But it can also be used as the starting point for broader content packages and to alert reporters to opportunities for a good old-fashioned investigation.” This all emphasises the idea of AI as a tool run by humans, not something that replaces us (again, the caveat is for now.)
Another element flagged in the report is that AI can actually highlight stories journalists might not be aware of.
You don’t know what you don’t know and one of the things AI is really good at is surfacing stories that otherwise would have been missed
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