L’The journalism industry has undergone many changes over the past decade, which affect both journalists and their readership. The popularity of digital media has dramatically changed the way consumers get their news, and increasingly polarized political climates have led to widespread distrust of many news sources.
In a newsroom, machines are tireless co-workers who can automatically sift through troves of data, analyzing almost anything from SEO tags and official data to user-generated content or social media posts. According to some forecasts, 90% of news will be written by an AI by 2025. The Washington Post developed in 2016 a tool called Heliograf. This AI has written more than 850 articles, including 500 devoted to the elections. These articles allowed the American media to generate 500,000 clicks. The Associated Press (AP) newswire went from producing 300 articles on corporate earnings reports each quarter to 3,700 through the use of AI. Today, AP’s newsroom generates about 40,000 articles a year.
In France, the start-up Syllabs helps around twenty media, including L’Express, Le Monde, 20 Minutes and France.tv, to write content using a writing engine developed by linguists. In 2018, Forbes launched a publishing platform called “Bertie,” which uses AI to help journalists with news stories by identifying trends. Bloomberg was one of the first to use Cyborg, a program that dissects financial reports and instantly writes news stories with all relevant facts and figures.
In this technological race, Morocco is not left behind. The Moroccan news agency MAP (Maghreb Arabe Presse) started the automatic production of dispatches and tagging last year. This platform, which is part of a series of IA projects of the agency, makes it possible to automatically generate sports news (football and basketball) and stock market news (Casablanca Stock Exchange) in French 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in using data provided by MAP. The automation of journalistic production methods is not limited to text generations alone. The BBC recently implemented a synthetic voice to read articles published on its site. At Reuters, an automated video system was launched last year for coverage of sports events.
For many journalists, the idea of sharing space with artificial intelligence is threatening. This automation poses a threat to jobs and journalistic identity, doing work usually done by humans. But AI is not intended to replace the work of journalists. Instead, it supports repetitive, simple, or data-intensive tasks so human journalists can focus on stories that require creative vision, multi-faceted analysis, and good judgment. “Outside of big news agencies and niche players, most struggling newsrooms don’t have the skills – or more importantly, the time – to devote to understanding how to use these technologies and so they don’t not even start”, had previously declared in our columns Badr Boussabat, expert in AI.
However, it is expected that in the next few years the use of AI tools will become more common in newsrooms. 75% of publishers say that in the next three years, AI will play a crucial role in the business of their company, and this applies to both small and large publishers. In any case, this is what emerges from a study from February 2022, carried out by the World Association of News Publishers (WAN-IFRA). Another report commissioned by The Reuters Institute, in which 246 publishers and editors in 52 countries were surveyed, also revealed that artificial intelligence is at the top of the priority list. Pure robo-journalism, or the automatic generation of articles, is currently less of a priority for 40% of them, but it is definitely something that many progressive publishers are focusing on.
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