July 23, 2024
We don’t want AI writers in the newsroom, say humans



Most news readers from the UK and US are uncomfortable with AI-generated journalism, an extensive new survey has revealed.

Like most journalists these days, I use AI sometimes — to help me transcribe an interview or summarise a text. But I have long opposed using AI to generate content.

AI simply cannot be trusted to report the news. Researchers have shown that even the most advanced large language models (LLMs) can “hallucinate” incorrect information. Many display clear bias.    

My stance is clear, and it looks as if news readers concur. Only 23% of US respondents and 10% of those in the UK said they were comfortable with AI-produced news, according to a survey published in the Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report.

In both countries, 18% said they would be neither comfortable nor uncomfortable. The remainder of the respondents (53% from the US and 63% from the UK) said they were uncomfortable with AI-produced news. 

News readers are especially sceptical of the use of AI for reporting on sensitive topics like politics or war. 

Respondents were most willing to accept the use of AI in behind-the-scenes work, like helping journalists improve their workflows. However, most respondents don’t want AI generating entirely new content, especially life-like photos and videos.  

“Overall, there is consensus that a human should always be in the loop and complete automation should be off limits,” the Institute wrote.  

AI in the newsroom

While focusing on the US and UK, the Digital News Report is based on surveys conducted with nearly 100,000 people across 47 countries and regions. It highlights the challenges newsrooms face in an era increasingly dominated by digital technologies.

The findings come as publications around the world bring AI into the newsroom. Numerous outlets are using bots to automate repetitive tasks, generate images, or write code. Some publications are even experimenting with AI news anchors.  

Others are controversially using AI to generate completely new content. Last year, News Corp Australia admitted to generating about 3,000 articles a week using AI.

Newsrooms adopting AI comes amid plunging revenues and major job cuts across the sector. While the market dynamics for news media are in dire straits, the need for reliable journalism is greater than ever — that’s why I don’t mind letting AI into the office, but definitely not behind my keyboard.

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