With the rise of A.I. technology beginning to infiltrate the newsroom, many journalists believe we're on the brink of a new digital revolution that will change how journalism is done once again. This time it will be even more sophisticated. But what are its limits?
Trint's whitepaper, How Technology Is Shaping Journalism, explores the key trends of the moment and how they will shape the field over the next decade.
"What's interesting about these technologies is how they are changing production, structures, recruitment and even editorial formats," says Professor Charlie Beckett, Director of the Journalism A.I. project at the London School of Economics.
Beckett has curated a directory of journalism projects that use A.I. and computational techniques as part of his research. In the whitepaper chapter The Future: The A.I. Newsroom? he explains how A.I. could reduce the churn of paid subscribers. In some cases, A.I. can help journalists research stories, which he describes using the example of an algorithm that was trained to analyze contenders and voters during the 2020 U.S. election.
But what really interests Beckett are the more durable tools that assist newsrooms daily ' including with writing. How can machine learning be used to organize archives? To make information more searchable? To write up reports and even articles?
It sounds like something from the future, but the whitepaper looks at examples of where this technology is being implemented today.
So, where does this leave journalists?
As the industry reevaluates its value in light of new technologies, reporters need to find their new position alongside A.I. rather than fighting against it. Beckett argues that there are many specific values that humans can bring to the newsroom that A.I. never will.
In fact, effective technology could even make some elements of human input more valuable than they already are and sharpen our definition of what it is that journalists do.
So the A.I. revolution will transform newsrooms all over again, and in Beckett's view, this presents a huge opportunity. But to take advantage, news organizations will have to think big.
He says: "[There's] a kind of weariness [from] news organizations. We went online, then we did all that social media stuff, and we trusted Facebook to help us' Do we really need to change again? The answer is: yes, yes you do."
As history has demonstrated, if the technology exists and can be shown to be helpful, journalists will quickly embrace it and use it to improve their work.