How AI is changing the newsroom

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Modern-day technological tools such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT etc have witnessed a robust and ubiquitous application across all industries and their verticals around the world in recent times.

The media industry was one of the earliest adopters of the technological advancement, and its segment of journalism has also gradually begun feeling the ripples of these interventions. Among the first effects of this shift comprising AI in newsroom was the inception of chatbots, automation of reporting systems and new machine learning techniques.

Ease of functioning and minimisation of human efforts was observed, which helped in the drafting of initial news reports. Because of this, automation emerged as a significant facilitator and AI technologies found a concrete place in the news segment.

With these interventions advancing to our every day work, the concept of AI has found several applications across newsrooms that include:

Identifying newsworthy content: The very essence of a well-functioning newsroom is to gather newsworthy information first for its readers or audience. In such a case, AI can be leveraged to continually track real-time content over the web and immediately identify content that may be newsworthy or holds relevance. Further, this technological tool may help analyse colossal sets of information, thereby bringing to surface previously untold stories that might be substantial enough to make pieces of news from.

Understanding user’s behaviour and needs: Newsrooms fundamentally operate as per their readers’ behavioural pattern and needs. Therefore, AI and machine learning can be leveraged mainly to decide how a certain content gets shared for maximum readership. Moreover, technological tools may help combat one of the most pressing issues faced by readers on online news platforms — the constant abuse and harassment among discussions under the news articles.

For instance, Google’s parent company Alphabet has developed the ‘Perspective API’ tool for British national daily The Times which would provide a platform for constructive online discussions and debates. Metype, the audience engagement platform, uses Perspective API to help publishers filter out toxic comments. Further, this tool incorporates machine learning for efficient comment moderation. Through such measures, newsrooms can cater to the persistent issue, further removing the ghoulish comments among online conversations.

Aiding reporters in having better workflow: AI can significantly help assist reporters through measures such as automated writing, real-time fact-checking, and automatic suggestions of relevant pieces, among others. Furthermore, it has been observed that journalists often have to unwillingly spend a substantial amount of their work time on repetition as they have to create multiple versions of the same content for different channels and publications.

In such times, AI can help reduce such a monotony by taking up the task of reiteration. This would help journalists focus better on their area of expertise — reporting and creating original content, thereby aiding a better workflow.

Personalising digital news content: Through an effective implementation of AI and machine learning, newsrooms can customise their digital platforms such as the mobile application and news feed to show and recommend news that would suit an individual reader the best. Such methods of machine translation and predictability have found a huge implementation in personalisation of digital news content.

Detecting spams, misinterpretations and ambiguity: There have been several instances where articles and surveys, often are or appear to be misleading. AI can help delete such misleading and ambiguous material automatically before publishing and eradicate the trend of fake and misleading news, thereby being beneficial to the respective organisation.

For example, Reuters has developed the Reuters News Tracer which helps trace spams, misinterpretations and ambiguity amidst a plethora of databases. Real-time detection of false or inaccurate information by AI can thereby help in making the information available to readers as precise as possible.

In order to achieve automation of processes by leveraging AI, newsrooms may consider enabling a content management system (CMS) in their operations and free their valuable human resource from performing redundant tasks. While technology was initially perceived as a disruptor for the newsroom, making it difficult to implement the tools, the need to introduce it has now been felt even at the editorial level. With the above-mentioned uses of AI, it is evident that it may turn out to be a positive force driving multiple transformations in journalism.

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