This article from JOURNALISM & MASS COMMUNICATIONS QUARTERLY is like opening remarks from a well produced panel. Six scholars present ideas about AI in journalism.
Author and NYU professor Meredith Broussard warns against technochauvinism: ‘let us not perpetuate the assumption that because a particular new technology exists, it is the right tool for every task.’ She suggests notwithstanding technology benefits, ‘journalism is a deeply human endeavour’ and will always have humans at its core: ‘Journalism is about telling stories about the human condition.’
Fellow author Nicholas Diakopoulos, a professor at Northwestern, reinforces humans staying at the centre with his research showing ‘the future of AI in journalism has a lot of people around.’ He sees workforces becoming increasingly hybridized, with machines augmenting human journalists — but not replacing them. Having human values central to news work cuts both ways — it also means human bias can permeate algorithms.
Andrea Guzman, another author and a professor at Northern Illinois University, says adjusting to new cooperative workflows with machines applies to humans as well. She says journalists need to work more closely with peers in technology and computer science. New insights are needed and achieving them requires overcoming legacy thinking.
From Cornell, Professor Rediet Abebe asks pointedly: ‘which humans?’ She says if boundaries are to be crossed, let them include marginalized communities, too. She wants the opportunity not to be missed for AI to ‘shed light on discrepancies that exist in the attention given to improving the lives of different communities.’
The final remarks call for education as a practical next step. Professor Michel Dupagne at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Ching-Hua Chan at University of Miami propose learning programs to help journalists understand artificial intelligence. They suggest it’s not necessary for journalists to learn the math and mechanics of AI. Instead it would be beneficial to acquire familiarity with fundamental concepts: ‘the strengths, weaknesses, processes, ethical issues, and various applications of AI related to our field.’
The guest editor for the forum is Seth Lewis from the University of Oregon, who frames the collection with an opening. He suggests no matter how transformative the effects of AI will be for journalism, they are another example of how journalism has co-evolved with computers over time. His set-up serves equally as a conclusion:
‘The implications of AI for journalism must be foregrounded in the larger context of the digitization of media and public life—a transition to apps, algorithms, social media, and the like in ways that have transformed journalism as institution: undercutting business models, upending work routines, and unleashing a flood of information alternatives to news, among other things.’Seth C. Lewis, from the introduction
- Meredith Broussard – New York University
- Nicholas Diakopoulos – Northwestern University
- Andrea L. Guzman – Northern Illinois University
- Rediet Abebe – Cornell University
- Michel Dupagne – Shanghai Jiao Tong University
- Ching-Hua Chuan – University of Miami
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