DispatchPress Freedom News

Transparency, trust and AI in newsrooms

In an industry already facing challenges over public trust, the rise of artificial intelligence is adding yet another threat to press freedom. Erosion of public trust creates conditions in which governments and others in authority can more easily restrict media freedom.

Last month, the chief executive of The Arena Group which owns Sports Illustrated, was fired following weeks of controversy that the magazine published articles generated by artificial intelligence (AI). Sports Illustrated reportedly created fake author names, profiles and photos for the AI-generated articles, to make readers believe real people wrote those stories.

In its annual Changing Newsrooms report, Reuters noted that 74 per cent of newsrooms they surveyed believe generative AI “will help newsrooms increase productivity and improve workflows, without changing the essence of journalism.” That same survey, released in December, shows only nine per cent of newsroom leaders have established AI training programs for staff.

While AI is another tool to help journalists, particularly in areas of data collection, without proper training, clear guidelines and transparency by newsrooms on its usage, those outlets risk the trust of their audience.

Earlier this year CBC announced it had signed the Partnership on AI Framework along with other media, and social media outlets. The Framework sets out recommendations for “creating, sharing, and distributing AI-generated media.”

Transparency is key if AI is being used to help report and disseminate the news. Verification of information gathered through AI is essential, while copyrights must be respected.

AI cannot replace the work of journalists. Maintaining trust in a fair and balanced news operation is paramount for the industry and the citizens it serves.