As the journalism industry faces new challenges and changes, AI holds a lot of promise to be a helpful ally for news organizations. With its capacity to streamline tedious tasks and accelerate editorial processes, this technology can enable journalists to spend more time doing what they do best: telling high-quality and impactful stories.
Over the past several months, Magid has been in conversation with many industry leaders and teams, discussing AI’s practical uses, boundaries, and how it can best amplify, not replace, journalists’ voices. These discussions have revealed not just a curiosity, but an openness and appetite for the opportunities that AI brings to the table.
Broadcast journalism has long operated without needing to substantially change its workflows. However, now the industry faces the imperative to develop efficiencies and distinguish itself in an evolving market. We’re seeing organizations recognize the need for transformation and many demonstrate a willingness to be early adopters of AI. Particularly at the local level, there is a sense of enthusiasm and growing understanding about the transformative potential of AI technologies in journalism.
Why Newsrooms are an Ideal Environment for Embracing AI Integration
AI has massive potential to unburden journalists with mundane, low-impact tasks, and accelerate the storytelling process. The result would be more time to dedicate to doing real journalism.
Still, embracing AI requires a thoughtful approach. News organizations must understand what AI can and cannot do. For example, AI is very helpful at ingesting meaning and context, then providing answers that are relevant to that meaning and context. It often surprises people to hear that AI actually cannot do critical thinking, despite sometimes appearing to do so. Yet, this is also one area that humans, and especially journalists, do exceptionally well. Journalists are trained communicators, and this skill is incredibly effective for directing AI. The core skills of a journalist are critical thinking and storytelling, and AI is great at providing answers and performing automated tasks – it’s a great pairing.
As teams acquaint themselves with AI’s capabilities, it’s crucial to recognize that the technology is not a replacement for the analytical rigor and critical thinking that define quality journalism. This is why developing a thorough understanding of AI capabilities across the newsroom is vital, as is creating policies for how your team will utilize the technology. As newsrooms build task forces and increase their literacy in AI, what they’re also doing is leveraging technology to stand out and stay relevant.
When considering implementing AI in local newsrooms, 4 key facets should be addressed:
- Develop a newsroom-wide understanding of what AI can and cannot do. It’s essential to dispel myths about AI’s capabilities, specifically its lack of critical thinking skills.
- Embrace the opportunity to accelerate Storytelling. Journalists possess core competencies in critical thinking and language that, when paired with AI’s ability to digest meaning and provide relevant responses, can result in efficient content generation. However, it’s critical to remember that AI can’t make the editorial decisions or do the investigative efforts human journalists do.
- Streamline workflows. Examine the newsroom’s workflow, and pinpoint the tasks where AI can provide assistance without compromising the integrity of the reporting. Start with low-risk tasks.
- Work with a trusted partner. A strategic collaboration with experts in AI implementation, especially those with deep industry knowledge, can guide your newsroom to integrate AI without jeopardizing core journalistic values. More on this in a moment…
The Importance of Partnership in AI Implementation
AI is developed by tech-driven teams that are very focused on technical achievement, but often have blind spots in certain industries simply due to lack of experience in certain areas. To fully optimize for the value potential of AI, while implementing it in your workflows in a safe and reliable way, you need industry expertise to combat these gaps. Magid has 65+ years of building expertise through research and consulting that can help assuage concerns around the implementation of AI in your newsroom.
A question that we have heard frequently in conversations with partners is: If we use AI, are we still in the driver’s seat? Using AI is a high-stakes workflow. Organizations need to ensure that implementation is integrated in a strategic way that optimizes for efficiency, while also not risking journalistic integrity. With Magid, newsrooms can confidently navigate the safety and accuracy concerns associated with AI, ensuring that these smart tools are utilized responsibly.
AI has tremendous potential to be a journalist’s skilled co-pilot – it helps to ensure a smoother journey without ever controlling the course. There is a lot to be demystified about what exactly AI can do and can’t do, especially in the newsroom context. This is why Magid is committed to putting out more content and continuing to have conversations with journalism leaders to clarify the right kinds of use cases for your newsroom. Clear and deliberate steps, coupled with the guidance of experienced partners like Magid, will pave the way for a successful integration of AI in newsrooms.