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ChatGPT and artificial intelligence – a new beginning for journalism?

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash.com

Whether as a cheat sheet for class tests, as a helper for an essay or for quickly summarising a book, artificial intelligence is becoming increasingly popular among “normal consumers”. These virtual assistants are currently also gaining ground in journalism. What influence do artificial intelligences have on journalistic work or are we even facing a new beginning?

Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash

“Nuclear power refers to the use of nuclear energy to generate electrical energy, in which nuclear reactions take place in nuclear power plants to produce steam that drives turbines and generates electricity.”

ChatGPT-4’s answer to the question “Explain nuclear power in two sentences.”

You are probably wondering why this piece begins with a rough summary of nuclear power, but the content of the quote printed above only plays a subordinate role. This is because the quote is the response of the artificial intelligence ChatGPT-4 to the input “Explain nuclear power to me in two sentences”. Generated completely automatically in just 3.2 seconds, faster than any journalist could ever formulate this sentence. So will artificial intelligence soon be taking over journalists’ jobs?

Many people in the modern media world are currently asking themselves this question, as AI is becoming an ever greater part of our everyday lives, consciously or unconsciously. For example, many algorithms on our smartphones make use of AI. The artificial intelligences collect data such as the average screen time, the number of times the smartphone is activated or which apps are used most frequently. From this collected mass of data, the AI then creates the most user-friendly interface possible for us. For example, frequently used apps appear more often as “recommendations” on the screen or, when we search the internet, we are shown adverts that are specially adapted to our usage behaviour. Artificial intelligence therefore unconsciously determines the everyday lives of many people.

The use of artificial intelligence is also already being utilised in journalism. The largest amateur football portal in Germany, Fussball.de, is a pioneer in this field. Since the beginning of 2020, automatically generated texts have been used as match reports on Fussball.de. The AI developed by the portal itself is based on the available data from the referee’s official match report, which is fed into the online portal of the German Football Association (DFB), known as DFBnet. So does this mean that the days of local journalists at municipal sports grounds seem to be numbered?

However, the answer to this question is not that simple, even if AI-generated match reports can often be read online just a few minutes after the final whistle of a football match, a human hand is still required, especially for eventful matches. This is because the AI only analyses data such as the number of goals, yellow and red cards and substitutions, but cannot provide any information about the course of the match. So if a clearly superior team concedes the decisive goal in the last minute, it is quite likely that Fussball.de will portray the actually superior team as the big loser in its report. Only a journalist can convert the additional information required from his on-site experiences into an accurate match report.

The London school of economics shows how AI could change the news journalism in the future.

Even if artificial intelligence can already project enormous amounts of data into journalistic texts in the shortest possible time, it is not yet time for a new beginning in journalism, at least not at the moment. At present, freely accessible AI´s such as ChatGPT should primarily be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to quickly add information to your own work such as statistics, data or a quick summary to make a certain topic more understandable.

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