How AI Can Be Used Responsibly by Journalists

While debates rage over the use of artificial intelligence in newsrooms, many journalists have already started using AI in their work. AI can help journalism by easily automate time-consuming tasks, like manually transcribing audio or video.  

Alex Golden, NBCU News Group’s senior director of news product and strategy, shares ground rules for how journalists can use AI as “assistance technology.”  

Never use AI in place of accuracy and authenticity

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Newsrooms should never pass off AI-generated content as original reporting. Golden said that would be “no better than any bad actors out there who are doing their own deepfake images for bad actor purposes.”

AI always needs human oversight

Golden sees AI as more likely to improve workflows rather than replace entire jobs. It needs to be monitored by humans to ensure its proper use. Some of the tasks journalists can unload onto AI include summarizing large quantities of texts, generating conclusions based on meetings and upscaling images.

It could also quicken the process of content verification and help detect whether content has been artificially created or modified. But journalists need to review these findings and verify them. 

“We want to use fire to fight fire,” Golden said. “Employing AI is the best way to suss out the AI being used by bad actors.”

Don’t let AI do all your work

Journalists should not let AI do all their work and risk creating a “self-perpetuating replacement” for themselves, Golden says. But he encourages journalists not to be afraid of AI. He wants them to experiment with AI to see how it can help with reporting. 

“We still believe that journalism is done by journalists at the end of the day,” Golden said. “We still need to maintain the editorial best standards and best practices. Those don’t go away. AI cannot be used as a shortcut.”  

It’s unclear how AI will develop and help journalism in the near future, but Golden is eager to see how journalists adapt.  

“The new stuff that we’re working on excites me the most,” he said. “There’s just so much possibility.”