AI isn’t a substitute for human journalism.
Last week, sports new website Race Track published an article announcing the death of former NBA player Brandon Hunter, who passed away at the age of 42.
The article appears to have been written by AI and published unedited, with largely unintelligible word choice and sentences. Even worse, in announcing his death, the article’s title describes Hunter as useless.
This characterization and the general carelessness displayed in the article are immensely disrespectful to Hunter’s legacy, as well as to his loved ones who survive him.
The quality of Race Track’s article speaks to the current condition of journalism.
Small publications, who don’t have the resources to pay for enough writers or copy editors to produce stories of appropriate quality turn to AI instead.
Reducing print news has had a troubling effect on the health of journalism.
Newspapers generate revenue in large part through selling space to advertisers. Online news doesn’t lend itself to advertisements as well as print media does, resulting in lost revenue when publications reduce print. That lost revenue leaves papers with less money to direct towards printing physical newspapers, creating a vicious cycle.
Using AI over human journalists lowers the quality of news, which discourages its consumption and exacerbates stress on publications.
The value of journalism can’t be understated.
Despite what some may think, there’s still a demand for news, particularly news imbued with human perspective. Earlier this month, 20,000 people read one of The Journal’s Journal-Board Editorials in a single day.
AI is a growing presence against which resistance is likely futile, but we should still be mindful of its application.
AI can’t replace human journalists. Unlike people, AI can’t generate original thoughts, only reframe preexisting material. Regurgitating old thoughts in different orders shouldn’t be passed off as journalism.
Its incapacity for original thought means AI can’t conduct interviews or long-term investigations, as human journalists so often do, nor can it understand emotions and broach sensitive topics with humanity or nuance.
Journalism aims to be unbiased, and to warn its readers when information isn’t subjective. AI can’t recognize subjectivity, meaning it can’t perform a responsibility inherent to journalism.
AI is suitable for menial journalistic tasks, like transcription, but even its transcriptions make mistakes which must be corrected by people.
To preserve the health and value of journalism, news publications must prioritize the quality of their stories over the quantity they release. Publications without the appropriate number of staff available to dedicate to covering sensitive material should refrain from engaging with it, rather than defaulting to AI.
Journalism will always require the human touch.
—Journal Editorial Board
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to email@example.com.