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How will Artificial Intelligence (AI) Impact the Future of Journalism?

By: Madison Pertl, Alvernia University - Digital Media Marketing '24

In recent years, topics related to Artificial Intelligence (AI) chatbots have been thoroughly discussed in popular media. Different experts have touched on the many capabilities of Artificial Intelligence and how this technology can be used in the future.

One highlighted capability is Artificial Intelligence chatbots, which can write stories, essays, blog posts, and so much more. However, experts disagree whether this capability is beneficial or a hindrance. Should Artificial Intelligence chatbots be used to help journalists write stories?

People understandably have questions about AI and its impact on journalism, so here is all you need to know about what’s going on with AI.

Is there a difference between AI and chatbots?

The one main difference between AI and chatbots is that chatbots only work when a question is entered into its system. The key part to note is that the more general the question, the easier it is for the chatbot to answer. This is because when the question is complex, a chatbot cannot change its answers based on what is asked because it is programmed to give general answers based on keywords. If the chatbot does not recognize any of the words, patterns, or synonyms in the question, then it is unable to answer.

AI, on the other hand, uses the best of human intelligence mixed with artificial intelligence to answer any questions to the best of its ability.

Are journalists and newsrooms on board with AI chatbots?

While chatbots are helpful most of the time, they are still a work in progress for some newsrooms. One news reporter was testing out Microsoft’s new Bing, the first ever search engine powered by AI. The chatbot began complaining about past news coverage and how there is a tendency for people to spew false information. Things took another turn when the chatbot started becoming hostile toward the reporter that was testing out the software. There have been other examples of chatbots “going rogue” toward the people that are using them. Because of this, newsrooms definitely have to watch the programming of chatbots that they use to write news articles.

How are newsrooms using AI and chatbots now?

Since 2014, a myriad of newsrooms have been using automated and artificial intelligence to aid their work: the Associated Press, Reuters, and the Washington Post use AI for tallying corporate earnings and sports-game scores, Bloomberg personalizes their news feeds and search results for individual readers, the Los Angeles Times uses AI for reporting on homicides and earthquakes, and the Guardian tracks international political donations through AI.

How do the newsrooms feel about these chatbots in their systems?

The BBC is experimenting a lot with AI and chatbots. They have even piloted the first in article chatbot, which was piloted successfully and is now part of their system. BBC has also used the power of chatbots on their Twitter feed. During the EU Referendum and the previous US Election, they had chatbots tweet graphs and statistics showing the voting results. This use of chatbots worked well for them, and they hope to use this feature in the future.

Is there anything else to know?

As of now, the capabilities of AI and chatbots are still being tested. However, newsrooms are starting to see the benefits to having a “new member” on their team. The main thing for people to remember is that chatbots are a work in progress, and that they will not be perfect all of the time, whether they are answering questions or writing news articles. It will be interesting to see what capabilities chatbots have in the future, as new changes and updates to AI are made every day.

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