AI Housekeeper: Newsrooms Are Largely Using The Technology For Mundane Workflow Tasks

The news business is rapidly — but unevenly — applying artificial intelligence, judging by Artificial Intelligence in the News, a study published by the Columbia Journalism Review.

AI is being applied against a wider range of tasks, but “many of the most beneficial applications of AI in news are relatively mundane, and AI has often not proved to be a silver bullet in many cases,” writes the author Felix M. Simon.

However, publishers have achieved productivity gains, including “dynamic paywalls, automated transcription, and data analysis tools in news production.”

AI can also streamline the reporting process. 

“For my interviews, I must transcribe them like everyone else [laughs],” states a German editor. “And that really takes time if I do it manually. Like, an hour-long interview would usually take me three or four hours to type up, [although it] kind of depends on how much I need, of course. With AI, that easily comes down to 15 minutes.”



Simon contends that “AI aids news workers rather than replaces them, but there are no guarantees this will remain the case. AI is sufficiently mature to enable the replacement of at least some journalism jobs, either directly or because fewer workers are needed.”

He adds, ‘It is not a given that AI will free up news workers to do deeper or better journalism. It is just as likely that any time savings will immediately be filled with new or additional demands.”

Meanwhile, newsrooms are utilizing AI technology from large firms like Google, Amazon and Microsoft. Larger organizations are more likely to work on AI development in-house. But Simon warns that the growing dependence on technology companies for AI “could further weaken the news industry. The visibility of news content could shrink as AI user experiences become more popular." 

He goes to say that productivity gains from AI in the news “will not be straightforward. The benefits of AI to the news will be staggered. They will incur costs in the early stages and necessitate changes at the organizational and strategic level.” 

The study is based on 134 interviews with news workers at 35 news organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. The outlets include The Guardian, Bayerischer Rundfunk, The Washington Post, The Sun, and the Financial Times. Also, there were interviews with 36 international experts from industry, academia, technology, and policy.


Next story loading loading..