Growing role of artificial intelligence in newsrooms

Digital Media India 2019

Neerav Parekh, chief executive officer, vPhrase India.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been making inroads into various aspects of human life. Remarkably, AI is now being used in the newsroom to write a variety of data-driven stories as well; stories related to company earnings, crime, price trends and finance, among others. So, how exactly does AI work? Basically, an algorithm collects data, analyzes that data to generate information and then transforms that information into a story.

This trend of increasing application of AI or robots in the newsroom is expected to continue in the near future as well, Neerav Parekh, chief executive officer, vPhrase India, said during the Digital Media India 2019 summit organized by WAN-IFRA in Mumbai on 19-20 February. vPhrase develops AI software for businesses.

The process of automatically creating natural language text based on non-linguistic input is called natural language generation. It combines knowledge about language and the domain to produce documents and reports automatically.

So, can AI or robots replace journalists? Not entirely, said Parekh. However, AI can help free journalists to take up assignments that they are more qualified to do. Robots are also not capable of writing non-routine stories and they lack creativity. On the other hand, AI is far more accurate and quicker than humans and this can help it do standard stories at a very huge scale. AI can help take care of large datasets flowing every week which need time consuming analysis.

The biggest advantage that AI or robots can offer in the newsroom is personalization. AI can help rewrite stories on the basis of location, demographics and behavior, said Parekh. There is a downside to heavy reliance on AI as well. According to Parekh, if gone into wrong hands, AI can be used to spread fake and biased news and can be used for trolling online, among other such activities.

Despite some cons of greater usage of AI in newsroom, Parekh said that its role is going to increase as we go forward.

“Natural language generation and AI are revolutionizing traditional journalism and organizational reporting,” he said.

Time Network is one of vPhrase’s customers and the company’s head of corporate strategy, Jijnesh Kenia, spoke about how his company is using the software. Times Network is using vPhrase’s AI software to turn large datasets such as BARC and BARC Adex data, which are in Excel format, into readable reports, he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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