Growing role of artificial intelligence in newsrooms

Digital Media India 2019

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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.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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