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.