Artificial Intelligence (AI) will
have an important role in transforming the work of media organs,
from the editorial side to the commercial one, but the
productivity gains will not be immediate, and the adoption of AI
in the news industry will not be frictionless, according to a
report published in the Columbia Journalism Review analysing how
AI will reshape the news industry and the public arena.
The study is the fruit of 134 interviews with news workers at 35 news organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany — including The Guardian, Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Washington Post, The Sun, and the Financial Times — and 36 international experts from the worlds of industry, academia, technology, and policy.
According to the study, the advent of AI represents an additional rationalization of journalistic work that will depend on the specific context and task at hand and will be influenced by institutional incentives and decisions.
Winners and losers will emerge from this reorganization. Indeed, they already have. Media organizations capable of investing in R&D, devoting staff time, attracting talent, and building infrastructure are at an advantage.
The researchers warn that the productivity gains from AI in the news industry will be staggered, not immediate. In the initial phases it will entail costs and require organizational and strategic changes.
A number of variables will determine the speed at which news organizations adopt AI: regulation, resistance from news workers, audience preferences, and the incompatibility of technological infrastructure are just some.
The concentration of control over AI by a small group of major technology companies will remain a key area because control over infrastructure confers power, the researchers say.
Developing frameworks to balance innovation with concerns regarding issues such as copyright will remain a difficult and imperfect task, but necessary one, they conclude.
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