A brand-new report, commissioned by the EBU, suggests that the development of artificial intelligence (AI) in newsrooms will bring new opportunites - and greater challenges - for public service media (PSM).
“The Next Newsroom: Unlocking the Power of AI for Public Service Journalism” identifies an increased role for PSM in scrutinizing algorithmic-influenced decision making and rebutting false news through trusted, evidence-supported reporting. It can also enable audiences to understand diverse global issues, through, for example, removing language barriers. Opportunities which are already core to the values and ethos of public service journalism.
The report also stresses that, while humans remain integral to news operations, no job involving the practice of journalism will remain the same. PSM organizations are urged to support urgent culture change within newsrooms, enabling journalists to adopt critical technical skills and new ways of working. And, crucially, not to allow a traditional fear of technologies to rise legacy media falling behind the progress made by big tech organizations.
Key themes from the report:
Noel Curran, Director General, EBU, said, "It is clear that AI and other developing data technologies will have a profound effect on society and on the future of journalism and communications. It is already influencing how journalism is created, distributed and accessed.
“As public service broadcasters, we have a responsibility to understand these technologies, harness their potential, mitigate their dangers and ensure that journalism in the public interest remains accessible to all. We also need to ensure that we still maintain the extremely high ethical and quality standards. By working together as a community, sharing expertise, supporting innovation and partnering where necessary with others, we can make a real difference in this space.
“The EBU News Report 2019 with its combination of expert analysis, practical guides and innovative case studies is just the beginning.”
Justyna Kurczabinska, EBU's Snr Manager, News Exchange and News Strategy: “We all as individuals face the challenge of processing an abundance of data - about ourselves and about the world. So what is the best possible contribution to society for public service journalism in the era of information overload?
“Public service media organizations need an in-depth understanding of this data revolution happening in societies and need to crack on with the AI technologies to be able to bring the best value possible to the changing society. I believe this new report will help our Members in that and it will help us at the EBU in shaping our news services.”
The authors of the report are Atte Jääskeläinen, former Director of News and Current Affairs at Yle with more than 22 years working in Finnish media. He is currently Professor of Practice at LUT University. Maike Olij is a media consultant and concept developer, who has consulted on strategy and policy for major Dutch media companies like NPO and NOS.
Maike Olij said, “Artificial intelligence sounds very futuristic, but it’s already here, in much of the journalistic work we do. It’s the fourth wave in the digital transformation and there are opportunities for public value if you can see past the hype.
“We urge public service media to be among the first movers in this field, be it selectively, collectively and with a strong focus on the much-needed human capital.”
Atte Jääskeläinen added, “Public service journalists have two major challenges ahead. Newsrooms need to understand these new technologies better and use them wisely, to filter out the hype and instead create something valuable for the audience that is also fit for public service.
“However, there’s another huge challenge. New technologies will change societies and individual lives, and keeping the machines in human control requires new reporting skills that newsrooms are currently lacking. Public service journalism must fulfil its mission during and after this transformation, but using data and artificial intelligence effectively requires scale. Successful investments are large and therefore strategic. We strongly recommend tight international collaboration between public service companies in Europe to reach the scale needed.”
The report draws on 30 diverse case studies from within and outside public service media organizations which give insights into how journalism across Europe is developing and investing in the opportunities afforded by AI to better support increased demands in newsrooms around content creation, fact verification, and more.
“The Next Newsroom: Unlocking the Power of AI for Public Service Journalism” was launched at the 14th EBU News Assembly in Paris on 19 November 2019.
Taking themes from the 2018 News Report, “50 Ways to Make it Better”, the EBU commissioned The Next Newsroom to address issues around AI and how it affects how journalism is reported and consumed – and how PSM can use new opportunities afforded by AI to stay ahead of the field.
The case histories were identified from both within and outside PSM organizations that best addressed the opportunities and challenges for PSM – particularly for the workplace - in adopting its practices to best fit the fourth wave of digitalization.