The Impact of AI in Journalism

The Impact of AI in Journalism

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

I seem to talk about trust a lot—whether with friends, my husband, colleagues, or pretty much everyone else. Trust is the anchor of many important relationships in life, so it’s no surprise that it was the main takeaway from a fantastic session at the AI Summit London. The topic? The impact of AI in Journalism - what is the future of journalism in the age of AI?

Jane Barrett, Global Editor of Media News Strategy at Reuters, shared the organisation’s AI strategy, aimed at enhancing and empowering journalists. A big issue with generative AI (GenAI) has been hallucinations—where AI creates false information to give an answer. That’s a big no-no for Reuters, who rely on the highest level of trust.

Reuters uses two GenAI tools: one summarises press releases quickly so journalists can review them faster for Reuters alerts, and the other is a headline helper – suggesting headlines, critiquing them, and offering many options for journalists to be inspired from.

During a Q&A with Katie Prescott from The Times, Jane was asked if GenAI keeps her up at night, especially when it comes to the risk of damaging the brand’s trust. Jane explained that even when machines create content, there are always ‘human handbrakes’. If no human is in the loop, it’s clearly labelled as AI-generated. For Reuters, Jane made clear, this only happens for fast translations of certain announcements.

Jane also talked about the organic uptake of GenAI, how early adopters at Reuters experiment with the technology, critique it, and listen to others' fears and concerns. This open dialogue helps balance innovation with responsible development.

Moves like this from Reuters and other publications will significantly impact both news production and consumption.

So, what does the impact of AI in journalism mean for PR and communications professionals? Here are key points to consider:

  • Efficiency and speed: With tools that summarise press releases and suggest headlines quickly, PR pros will need to adapt to a faster news cycle. Timely and concise communication will become even more crucial.
  • Familiarity with the tools: As journalists at Reuters and other outlets use AI to boost their work, PR professionals should get familiar with these tools to better tailor their pitches and materials to AI-enhanced journalism.
  • Transparency and ethics: Just as news organisations are upfront about AI-generated content, PR pros need to be clear about their use of AI tools. Transparency is key to maintaining trust with journalists and the public.
  • Adaptation to change: The organic uptake of AI-enhanced journalism at Reuters shows a culture of experimentation. PR professionals should stay updated on AI developments and be ready to tweak their strategies. This could mean training in new AI tools or teaming up with AI experts.
  • And trust (of course!): With a strong focus on maintaining trust and accuracy, PR pros must ensure all information given to journalists is thoroughly vetted. Any inaccuracies could be amplified by AI tools, damaging the credibility of the PR pro, their company, and the publication. A triple whammy!

What was truly inspiring about Jane’s session was the excitement and potential impact of AI in journalism, especially in sparking positive changes in our lives—whether it’s how we consume news or how we work with journalists in an ever-evolving role. I personally love change and innovation, so can’t wait for this new chapter for comms and find out what will be the impact of AI in journalism.

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