The significance of AI in technology debates cannot be overstated, as its wide-ranging influence extends to the media and various other sectors. Recognizing the disruptive potential of AI, the International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT) organized a webinar on July 7th, 2023, in collaboration with the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the US Embassy. The event featured guest speaker John Walubengo, an IT lecturer at Multi Media University, and was moderated by Grace Githaiga, CEO and Convenor at KICTANet.
During the webinar, Walubengo emphasized the importance for journalists to comprehend the essential functions of AI technology in order to effectively leverage its capabilities. Given their pivotal role as intermediaries between the public and societal events, understanding how artificial intelligence works is crucial for journalists to carry out their responsibilities. By embracing AI, journalists can make informed choices and navigate their careers in an increasingly competitive media landscape.
One notable development in the media industry is the rise of automated news, also known as algorithmic journalism or robot journalism. This rapidly growing technology employs AI and natural language generation to automatically generate news articles or summaries without human intervention. It has applications in financial reporting, breaking news stories, weather updates, and other areas of coverage.
AI harbors both benefits and risks for journalism, as highlighted by Walubengo. On one hand, AI-enabled tools can streamline content creation, distribution, editing, transcription, and data analysis processes, enhancing efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. However, there are risks to consider. If AI systems are trained on biased data or inadequately trained to address such issues, they can perpetuate and amplify existing biases. Ethical concerns arise from the potential misuse of AI-generated content, such as deepfakes, which can deceive audiences. Privacy and transparency also emerge as critical ethical concerns in the media industry when utilizing AI.
Grace Githaiga, the webinar moderator and CEO of KICTANet, advised journalists to approach AI with caution while embracing its potential opportunities and benefits. Githaiga emphasized that early adopters must continually learn and adapt as new advancements emerge. By embracing lifelong learning and keeping up with new opportunities, the media can discover innovative ways to leverage AI effectively.
Despite the inherent threats and risks, AI’s presence in journalism is inevitable. Media practitioners must embrace AI while remaining mindful of the potential risks and harms it may pose. Striking a balance between leveraging AI’s advantages and managing its associated challenges is essential for harnessing its potential in the media industry.
IAWRT plays a significant role in exploring the intersection of AI and journalism. As AI technologies continue to shape the media landscape, IAWRT promotes discussions and initiatives that focus on the ethical and responsible implementation of AI in journalism. By fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange, IAWRT aims to empower women professionals in the field to harness the potential of AI while addressing the challenges and ensuring the preservation of journalistic integrity.
By Raylene Kambua Digital Media Associate IAWRT, and Neema Mujesia, Media Science Researcher and Analyst