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Newsrooms try AI to check for bias and error

AI in the Newsroom
Thought Leader: Sara Fischer
October 6, 2023
Source: AXIOS
Written by: Sara Fischer

After months of experimenting with artificial intelligence to make their work more efficient, some newsrooms are now dipping their toes in more treacherous waters — trying to harness AI to detect bias or inaccuracies in their work.

Why it matters: Confidence in the news media is at an all-time low, pressuring news leaders to look for new ways to win back trust. But today’s AI, which has its own biases and makes up fake facts, is an unlikely savior.

Driving the news: The Messenger, a new digital media company, Wednesday said it plans to partner with a company called Seekr to ensure its editorial content “consistently aligns with journalism standards” using AI.

How it works: Seekr analyzes individual articles using factors like “title exaggeration,” “subjectivity,” “clickbait” and “personal attack” as well as purported political leaning.

Reality check: Taking humans out of the loop introduces other problems, and automating judgments by algorithm opens the door to many unpredictable failures.

The big picture: Several companies have launched in recent years with the goal of evaluating news accuracy and bias. Most rely on human judgment to assess whether a particular outlet or article is credible by analyzing factors like funding transparency and original sourcing.

Between the lines: Experts see some value in using AI to fact-check very large datasets — for instance, to track the spread of a falsehood identified by a human across multiple stories and media outlets.

Our thought bubble: Whatever systems publishers and editors impose, AI will probably enter newsroom workflows informally, as time-pressed journalists turn to tools like ChatGPT to answer questions fast — even if they’re advised not to.

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