Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has become a significant part of newsroom processes, impacting everything from story idea generation and content creation to audience engagement, distribution, investigative analysis, and business development. With this widespread adoption, it’s critical for newsrooms to develop a clear AI policy focused on ethical usage that ensures AI-generated content adheres to journalistic principles like accuracy, fairness, and non-bias. Such a policy not only supports transparency with audiences but is also key to building and maintaining trust.

To manage the complexity of AI integration, some organisations have appointed an “AI Tsar” to ensure consistency. While a single person overseeing AI in news production can enhance efficiency and consistency, this approach can also lead to potential risks such as overburdening the individual, limited perspectives, and unintentional biases. A more balanced strategy could involve a dedicated leader supported by a diverse team, sharing insights and workload.

The leadership in the AI implementation process is crucial: the ideal leader should possess a keen interest in AI, a deep understanding of ethical journalism, and experience in managing change. Importantly, they should also be committed to fostering innovation, ensuring that AI integration significantly contributes to the evolution and enhancement of journalistic practices.

Define AI Objectives

The first step is to define specific objectives for AI in the newsroom, aligning with overall organisational goals. This could include improving efficiency, enhancing news production quality, or boosting audience engagement.

Understanding the entirety of the production flow process is essential – from idea generation to distribution and promotion. Evaluate where AI is currently used and where it could be beneficial. Remember, AI should not be seen as a separate entity but as an integral part of the journalistic process, adhering to the same ethical standards.

Human oversight is vital in any AI process. AI tools should not operate autonomously but be constantly reviewed to ensure alignment with ethical standards and editorial policies. Given that AI systems can inherit biases from their training data, it’s crucial to ensure that these tools do not perpetuate biases or stereotypes.

While AI can expedite content generation, it can also be used to create deepfakes and other forms of misleading information. Newsrooms need to be equipped to identify such content, maintaining the accuracy and truthfulness of their coverage.

Understanding the risks associated with various AI tools is critical. This involves assessing the potential benefits and risks of the available tools, learning from the experiences of other newsrooms, and training teams to mitigate identified risks.

Build and maintain audience trust with transparency

Transparency with the audience about how AI contributes to news production is a key part of any ethical AI policy. The policy should thus include guidelines on transparency, informing audiences about the use of AI in content creation. Data privacy and security measures are crucial, especially if AI processes personal information.

Regular reviews of AI implementation are essential. If your newsroom is small, consider having such reviews with other media organisations with similar challenges. Collaboration with other organisations and a risk management plan to mitigate misinformation risks are vital components of a well-rounded AI policy in a newsroom.

Finally, as the field of AI is continuously evolving, newsrooms must stay informed about the latest developments and adapt their practices and policies accordingly.

A comprehensive AI policy with clear implementation plans can transform how AI is adopted in the newsroom. This requires developing clear guidelines, continuous monitoring and review, and fostering a culture that values ethical considerations in AI usage.

This article was first published on LinkedIn