It’s spelled E-N-P-S, there’s no AI in there… yet

If you spend much time on the Internet these days, you’d be forgiven for thinking the two most popular letters in the English language are A and I. News headlines and social media feeds are full up with the latest gee whiz news about AI – what it can do, what it will do next, and how it will touch pretty much every aspect of our lives, including journalism. 

Just recently, at the 2023 NAB convention in Las Vegas, there were so many vendors demonstrating some form of AI integration that you’d have expected ChatGPT to have its own exhibitor badge. From auto-generated headlines and tweets to AI-enhanced search and much more, there was more than enough AI to go around. Except at the Associated Press Workflow Solutions booth. There was plenty of talk about AI and ChatGPT on our stand, for sure, but no demonstrations of hastily coded integrations with AP ENPS or AP Playbook just so we could say we’d done it. 

Don’t get us wrong, we think there is a place for AI in newsroom workflows, but we also think this is an area where we really need to look extra carefully before we leap. 

For all the talk and excitement going on around ChatGPT and other AI bots and buzzwords, there’s also plenty of concern, and controversy, and more than a few chuckles at AI’s expense.  People in all sorts of industries are trying furiously to figure out how AI will impact them. Musicians, models, and Hollywood writers are among those speaking out about the potential for AI to take over their jobs; a bevy of tech luminaries are worrying about the existential dangers presented by AI; and even the head of ChatGPT creator OpenAI says government regulation is necessary to keep AI from getting out of control and causing “significant harm to the world”. A recent Tech Oversight Project poll in the United States found a majority of Americans favor such regulations, while lawmakers in Europe are already moving ahead with this.

As you would expect, the concerns over the growth and use of AI extend into the news industry as well. Individual news organizations and news industry groups are studying AI, experimenting with it, and creating guidelines and recommendation for its use.

The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) is one such organization which is advising its members on the use of AI in journalism. It’s recently released guidelines state “AI (Artificial Intelligence) can have a role in ethical, responsible and truthful journalism. However, it should not be used to replace human judgment and critical thinking — essential elements of trusted reporting. It may have a role in your newsrooms as a tool to assist in your work.”

In a similar vein the Partnership on AI has previously shared its Recommendations for Ethical AI in Local News. Two key takeaways from this are that any AI technology “must embody the standards and values of the news operation” and that “newsroom staff need to actively supervise AI tools.”

As a part of the Associated Press – a news organization with a demonstrated commitment to accurate, fact-based journalism and a culture rooted in journalistic ethics – we couldn’t agree more.  We are already working on plans for adding AI functionality into the next generation of our newsroom solutions because we see promising opportunities for these technologies to help journalists tell better stories and get their stories out to more platforms.  But we’re also working to make sure those plans align with our customers’ views on the appropriate use of AI in journalism. Just as the AP’s newsroom chooses to get a story right over getting it out first, we’re not worried about being first to market with AI integration so long as when we get there (and we will, soon!) we do it right. That means thoughtful study and careful consultation with current and future customers. That means using AI only where it offers clear value to a newsroom’s workflow and frees human journalists to spend more time telling stories which need to be told and less on time-consuming, repetitive tasks. And it means building in clear guardrails and strong ethical frameworks to support a newsroom’s own values.

We believe, along with the Partnership on AI and the RTDNA, that human journalists, not bots or algorithms, must have the final say over what’s being published by their newsroom. AI can assist with the process, but only under human oversight and control, and with clear audit trails available to ensure accountability. And that’s how it will work when we add AI to the solutions we offer to the news industry. If you’re interested in learning more about how we intend to utilize AI to help news organizations streamline cumbersome workflows, please get in touch with us.

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