Some Perth-based journalists are embracing Artificial Intelligence in their work, despite experts warning of the risk to news credibility.
Jehmal Pitt is a project manager at SevEra, a creative digital agency based in Perth. He runs an AI newsletter which uses coding to scrape relevant data from online news articles.
“It takes the article, summarises it, and feeds that summary into a GPT-like interface where it will use a pre-constructed template to format that information, make it original,” he says.
“It pretty much does 98% of that newsletter on automation, the last 2% is me just checking over it and embedding links, images etc.”
Mr Pitt says AI is laying an exciting pathway for the future of journalism.
“If you’re truly passionate and willing to adopt change in the context of the time that you live, and you’re not attached to a [specific] way of being in your profession, than this can be an amazing time,” he says.
“All of the ‘grunt’ work, the stuff that isn’t actually fun, that isn’t really journalism – the writing and formatting of it, it’s not why people became journalists. It’s to learn things and to share important information and important stories.”
He says content creators and journalists who want to start embracing AI should focus first on what they don’t like doing.
“Look at what you don’t like doing and ask yourself how do I automate this? Then you realise that now you can actually do what you want to do and all that stuff that you don’t want to do will be done for you.”
A media expert says transparency is the key in maintaining trust when using AI, after NewsCorp recently revealed it produces thousands of stories a week using generative AI.
Executive chairmen of NewsCorp Australia, Michael Miller, revealed last month the company used generative AI to produce 3000 articles every week on weather, fuel prices and traffic conditions.
Dr Thomas Yesudhasan is a lecturer in media law and ethics at Curtin University. He says AI, while presenting an opportunity for increased productivity, also poses a risk.
“It can affect the credibility of sources and the trust people have in the news media… it’s a big concern.”
However, Dr Yesudhasan says AI is already common in the professional media sphere, and students shouldn’t be deterred from its use.
He says while there’s been an increase across the board in students using AI to format assignments, he has not yet had journalism students submitting copy written by AI.
“I think it is a good opportunity to explore the technology, we can’t stop people from using technology,” he says.
Dr Yesudhasan says it’s vital that students, and media professionals alike, who wish to use AI in content creation explicitly reference any use of AI in their articles.
“I think if we are a bit more transparent and let our readership know where we have used artificial intelligence, our readership will trust us, ” he says.
In March, the MEAA released a statement regarding its position on the use of AI. The statement warns a balance must be struck between the opportunities AI presents to journalists and the risk it poses to the publics ability to trust the news.
“Responsibly designed AI has the potential to usefully supplement, extend and enhance our work, but it also has far-reaching consequences that need careful consideration, consultation and regulation,” said MEAA federal president Karen Percy in the statement.