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Human journalists in the age of Al journalism
There are several imminent social issues in relation to the rise of Al use in journalism. In particular, as fake news has been burgeoning on social media platforms, news organizations, including newspaper companies and broadcasters, clearly recognize fake news as a social problem. They mainly consider fake news “as a social media phenomenon that breeds on political polarization driven by mostly ideological, but sometimes also financial, motivations” (Tandoc et al., 2019, 686). News organizations have continuously blamed digital platforms and even audiences for the rise of fake news in the political environment.
There are several innovative ways to deal with fake news. For example, specialized monitoring systems, such as those provided by the startup News-Whip, are providing news organizations with 21st-century radar systems that are helping them spot more trends and respond more rapidly in their coverage decisions. In addition to scale, scope, and speed, the technologies are also moving the needle on accuracy. In the case of the automated earnings project at AP, the error rate in the copy decreased even as the volume of the output increased more than tenfold (Marconi et al., 2017). “The reason for the lower error rate is that algorithms do not make typos or arithmetic miscalculations .... The errors are generally because of a problem with the data. If the data’s bad, you get a bad story” (Marconi et al., 2017, 17).
However, it is certain that the major players who deal with fake new issues in journalism should be journalists themselves, not technologies, nor data,
Al journalism, social media, and fake news 129 mainly because they work as trained and well-balanced professionals. As Tandoc et al. (2019, 687) argue,
Journalism is founded on truth, regardless of whether it is favorable or not to any particular individual or group. Real news is based on facts so that public opinion and decision are not misguided. As fake news competes with real news for audience attention as well as for credibility, the journalistic field cannot always—and exclusively—blame external forces for its internal woes.
Christians (2019) also points out that the gathering and dissemination of news are not simply the construction of information and data. He (2019, 166) clearly argues that
reports do not simply mirror reality or in online journalism serve as modules in a technical network. The professional newsmaker’s occupational task is the production of truthful knowledge. For the ethics of truth, the reporters’ concerns are not primarily how to treat their sources or how to minimize harm to their audiences and viewers.
More specifically, the most significant part of journalism in dealing with fake news is humans, as the new era of augmented journalism will not fulfill its apparent promise without the diligent management and care of the journalists learning how to put these new technologies into practice (Marconi, 2017). Again, Al in journalism is another form of cultural production. With the rapid growth of Al in the media and cultural industries, media organizations and digital platforms have rapidly increased their investment in Al algorithms. Al-supported journalism certainly helps media organizations and reporters/writers regardless of their concerns around the replacement of humans. As van Dalen (2012) argues, automated content creation certainly affects the journalistic profession; however, we cannot be discharged as technological determinism alone, because the platformization of Al journalism is part of larger trends in journalism and society (Ornebring, 2010). Under this circumstance, the adaptation of Al resonates with the commoditization and commercialization of journalism. It is critical to understand that the automation of routine journalistic tasks cannot be determined by technology alone. As Marjoribanks (2000) already pointed out, socio-cultural elements and the institutional contexts of media organizations and markets, such as the work culture, position of journalism unions, or the relations between media owners and workers, together shape the way new technologies, including Al, would be adapted. Al has certainly reshaped the nature of journalism; however, surrounding socio-economic dimensions have also influenced the transformation of journalism, including journalists.
As digital technologies “do not erase social problems but merely shift and obscure them” (Broussard, 2019, 678), Al has not developed any big differences. Journalism may benefit from using Al tools to “commit acts of journalism, but at its heart, journalism is about telling stories about the human condition” (Broussard, 2019, 678). Humans supported by Al may resolve some serious socio-cultural issues relevant to the rise of Al in the realm of journalism. The crucial cooperation of humans and Al will be a space that the journalism industry has to develop, not only for the sake of journalism, but also for the growth of democracy. Ultimately, while Al helps enhance the speed and scale of news in routine situations, complement and augment journalists, and even create new opportunities for optimization and personalization that would not otherwise be possible, it still cannot do most news work, and, in many cases, creates new tasks and forms of work. In short, the future of Al in journalism has a lot of people around (Diako-poulos, 2019a, 680);
These technologies are opening up new territory and changing journalism in ways no one might have predicted even a few years ago. And they arrive at a time when journalists and media companies are searching for new solutions to the challenges that the digital revolution has imposed on the news business. Not only is it imperative to save time and money in an era of shifting economics, but at the same time, you need to find ways to keep pace with the growing scale and scope of the news itself. With social networks playing such a big role today in the expansion of the news ecosystem, news organizations need to keep constant track of what’s trending among news consumers in real time.
(Marconi et al., 2017, 17)
Al journalism will be the combination of humans and technologies, and therefore, people need to develop a new business model to accommodate Al in the journalism system, instead of casting humans out of the system, which cannot be actualized.