AI will not replace journalism but media needs to collaborate for wider coverage


  • Nation
  • Monday, 09 Dec 2019

(from left) Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Academic Affairs dean Sheila Coronel, ICFJ Knight Fellow Code for Africa Catherine Gicheru, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s Drew Sullivan, Reuters News chief operating officer Reg Chua, Der Spiegel National Desk editor Cordula Meyer, ICIJ Strategic Initiatives director Marina Walker Guevara and Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan editor Zaffar Abba.

PETALING JAYA: Artificial intelligence (AI) needs humans and it will not replace investigative journalism, say panellists at the 11th Global Investigative Journalism Conference (GIJC) in Hamburg, Germany.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists deputy director Marina Walker Guevara said numerous investigations in the would not be possible without the help of technology but it will never replace humans.

She was among the panellists at the four-day GIJC that was attended by about 1,700 participants from 130 countries.

“AI is not magic, and not for all problems. AI is a process that needs humans and it will not replace journalism, ” she said while speaking to journalists from around the globe at the conference.

As for more impactful news coverage, Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project editor Drew Sullivan opined that the various forms of news outlets such as newsprint, radio and TV within a country should be encouraged to collaborate instead of compete with each other.

Similarly, news providers from different countries facing the same issues are also encouraged to team up and embark on cross-border projects.

“When you do not collaborate, you are not able to leverage over an important issue and would lose out, ” he said.

Sullivan said collaboration also enables issues happening in remote areas to receive better coverage and share better information.

He said AI will play a giant impact on the way news is conveyed.

Media platforms were encouraged to be AI-literate and to understand how these algorithms could be abused by powerful people and institutions to create a new form of exclusion, persecution and discrimination.

“We do not want AI doing news and we do not want social media platforms to do it for us too,

“Social media platforms could be blocked and fracturing of information could happen, ” he added.

Meanwhile, Catherine Gicheru of Code from Africa and International Code For Journalists Knight Fellow want the news-consuming audience to know the news providers well.

“Get to know what your audience wants and work with them, ” she told the conference.

One of the challenges faced by the media is sustainability because the old business model have changed.

However, there are new ways to reach out to the public, which is through media and public collaboration, Gicheru said.

“Not everyone is on a smartphone. If you are a TV and radio journalist find ways to collaborate.

“Get your audience to know you... collaborate with them too... The news must make sense to your audience, ” she said.

There is also a need for media platforms to educate the younger generation on how the media works, said Der Spiegel National Desk editor Cordula Meyer.

“In Finland, media literacy is taught in schools. We (the media) have to do it, ” she said.

Meyer said the media needs to ensure the public and future generations understand the importance of good journalism and its contribution to society.

She was worried as there was a rise in the polarisation of news audiences as it may not be all that healthy for quality investigative journalism.

“Our audience must see the work that we do, ” said Meyer.

She urged the news team itself to go to the ground and explain their work for better audience engagement instead of leaving it to their company’s marketing teams.

Meyer said good journalism matters and it was always important to counter lies.

She added that it was important to have a perfect chain of arguments to counter any attack over a report.

The panel also called for solidarity among the various news providers which will help protect all media.

There was a need for all media to blast news when any reporter is attacked while on duty as this would send a signal that they are not alone and any form of vicious attack towards journalists would stop, she said.

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