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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Artificial Intelligence: A Threat or an Opportunity for Journalism Development?

Artificial Intelligence: A Threat or an Opportunity for Journalism Development?

David Caswell, a former consultant for "Yahoo" and "BBC News Lab," shared in an interview with Agence France-Presse that artificial intelligence is radically transforming the work of journalists and will soon lead to a "fundamental change in the information system."

Discussing the future of journalism, he stated, "We are trying to see the possibilities.
Things have become more apparent: more media outlets will be created and fueled by machines. These machines will gather information and produce content in voice, video, and text at a higher volume. This is a fundamental change in the information system, especially for journalism, structurally different from the current system."

He added, "We don't know how long it will take, perhaps two, four, or seven years. I think it will be quicker with lower levels of resistance. There may be legal issues, and the consumption habits of people and journalists might also slow down the process. However, there is no need for new devices, technical expertise, or a lot of money to produce them. All barriers from the first generation of artificial intelligence no longer exist thanks to generative AI."

On the latest developments in editorial teams, Caswell explained, "There are tools that allow content to flow through artificial intelligence, used, for example, by the Danish group (JP/Politikens) to enhance efficiency. This is beneficial for their transition model because there's an existing infrastructure behind the tool. Google is creating a tool named 'Genesis,' currently being tested in the United States with paid publications. It's important that we will see tools developed from platforms."

He elaborated that the journalist's task would be to manage these tools: "The tool assists in analysis, summarizing, and copying, while the journalist coordinates, verifies, and gradually edits the content. His job becomes managing the tool. But the question is whether these tools will be widely used in newsrooms."

Regarding the cost of this path, he clarified, "In the past decade, it was very costly. You had to create a data warehouse, strike a deal with Amazon or Google Cloud, hire experts and engineers, and it was a significant investment (...). With generative AI, this is no longer the case. Managing information flow through a paid interface costs $20 a month. No coding is required. All it takes is motivation, enthusiasm, and curiosity."

Caswell highlighted, "Many people in newsrooms who haven't participated in this path in the past because they lacked technical training can use it today. It's more open as a form of artificial intelligence. I think it's good, but it will cause a significant change in editorial teams."

The media expert noted, "Artificial intelligence has been around since the 1950s. But for practical applications, AI became prominent with Chat GPT in November 2022. It will take several years before we understand what we can create sustainably. A lot can be implemented.

The danger lies in technology companies and startups moving at a faster pace than editorial teams. There are many startups without an editorial element that can process press data, reports, and social network elements."

Caswell concluded, "Over the past ten to fifteen years, there was no vision for journalism in the world of social networks. Now, artificial intelligence provides an opportunity to change this situation and to participate in a new system. It's good to be optimistic, to explore, conduct experiments, and change our viewpoint."

As Gilani Cobb, Dean of the Journalism School at Columbia University (USA), says, artificial intelligence is a force that cannot be ignored, and journalism must organize itself around it, not the other way around.

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