As newsrooms increasingly integrate artificial intelligence (AI) into their operations, there is growing concern from the public on whether they trust these technologies, with many saying they still prefer human thought to be involved in production processes. 

According to the Reuters Digital News Report 2024, the decline in public trust in news in some countries is driven by AI’s potential to generate biased or false information. The report shows that more people prefer human involvement in journalism because AI lacks the moral and analytical capabilities of human journalists. Many said that behind-the-scenes AI assistance is acceptable if human journalists are involved, and if content is generated using AI, it should be clearly labelled to allow consumers to make informed choices. 

The report, however, shows that trust levels significantly influence comfort with AI-generated news. Those who generally trust news sources are more likely to accept AI involvement, especially when AI assists human journalists. On the other hand, people who don’t trust the news have a greater resistance to using AI in the newsroom. 

The report indicates that users are less comfortable with (but in some cases still open to) the use of AI for delivering news in new ways and formats, especially when this improves their experiences as users and increases accessibility, but they are least comfortable with the use of AI to generate entirely new content.  

“Regardless of the application, there is widespread agreement that total automation should be off limits and a human should always remain ‘in the loop’ – which coincides with how most publishers are thinking about the implementation of generative AI,” Dr Amy Ross Arguedas, a media practitioner writes in the report. 

The overall consensus according to the report is that full automation in news production should be avoided, and human oversight is important to maintaining trust. News organisations therefore need to find a balance between being transparent about AI use and reassuring the public about its role in journalism.