AI in journalism: Opportunities and limits for use in media houses

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can support balanced, trustworthy journalism in the digital age. Self-learning AI systems relieve journalists of the burden of researching, disseminating, and creating media content, thus creating free space for high-quality journalistic activities. At the same time, the use of AI poses challenges for the working reality of media professionals and the open formation of opinion in democracy. In a recent white paper, experts from Plattform Lernende Systeme show how AI tools can be used responsibly in journalism and what framework conditions need to be created for this.

Download the executive summary

AI systems can independently create news stories, images or videos, personalize news usage or assist with research by analyzing large amounts of data. According to the authors of the white paper "Artificial Intelligence in Journalism. Potentials and Challenges for Media Professionals," editorial departments are already using the technology to create automated weather, sports or traffic news, to create subtitles for audio or film reports, or to tailor reports according to users' geographical interests. With the help of AI, journalists can be relieved of tedious but necessary tasks and thus invest more time in creative journalistic work, such as conducting interviews or investigative research. However, it is important to avoid overburdening media professionals, which could result from the accumulation of demanding tasks or job cuts, the white paper says.

"The use of AI will profoundly change the media world. The current debate about Chat GPT shows that this is no longer a pipe dream. Newsrooms should use AI as a tool, to the benefit of journalists as well as media audiences. At the same time, media professionals, supervisory bodies, and politicians must guide and shape AI-based journalism in such a way that it continues to fulfill its democratic mandate," says Christoph Neuberger, professor of journalism at Freie Universität Berlin and director of the Weizenbaum Institute, as well as a member of the Law and Ethics working group of Plattform Lernende Systeme.

Editorial view remains indispensable

On the one hand, for example, AI systems can support journalistic balance in news offerings by detecting biases in newsrooms when selecting or prioritizing topics - for example, whether a male expert was disproportionately interviewed for a technical assessment. On the other hand, AI-generated posts may also reproduce hate speech and social stereotypes found in texts with which AI systems have been trained. One of the challenges of using AI in media is that developing an in-house AI solution is complex and expensive. On the other hand, if editorial teams use external solutions, they usually become dependent on large tech companies, which are primarily based in the U.S. or China and, for example, have lower standards of plurality or fairness. The editorial view is indispensable as a corrective in AI-based journalism to ensure the quality of AI-supported contributions according to journalistic standards, according to the authors.

In order to take advantage of the opportunities offered by AI for balanced journalism that promotes democracy, the experts from Plattform Lernende Systeme advise a responsible approach to AI-based media content and AI tools, both in editorial departments and among media audiences. They recommend transparent labeling of all AI-supported media products, certification of journalistic AI systems, and qualification of journalists as well as employees in supervisory bodies for the use of AI. The authors also call for press and copyright law to be adapted to AI-based journalism and for improved access to data for editorial staff, for example through open data portals in state institutions.

About the white paper

The white paper "Artificial Intelligence in Journalism. Potentials and Challenges for Media Professionals" was written by members of the IT Security, Privacy, Legal and Ethical Framework Group of Plattform Lernende Systeme with the collaboration of other experts. It shows possible forms of application for AI in editorial offices and media companies and highlights the opportunities, but also the limits, that are set for the use of AI systems. The white paper was based on a workshop with journalists in July 2022, the results of which were incorporated into the recommendations for action. The white paper is available for download (in German) free of charge.

Further information:

Linda Treugut / Birgit Obermeier
Press and Public Relations

Lernende Systeme – Germany's Platform for Artificial Intelligence
Managing Office | c/o acatech
Karolinenplatz 4 | D - 80333 Munich

T.: +49 89/52 03 09-54 /-51
M.: +49 172/144 58-47 /-39

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