AI’s influence on journalism discussed during PCIJ conference

During the second day of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism’s (PCIJ) Third National Conference on Investigative Journalism, Karol Ilagan of PCIJ, and other experts discussed the gradual integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the operations of select newsrooms across Southeast Asia on May 1 at the Novotel Hotel, Quezon City. 

According to Ilagan, AI adoption in the Philippines remains “relatively low,”  emphasizing the importance of understanding the underlying reasons. She also highlighted the potential and limitations of AI in investigative journalism and newsroom operations.

Along with Ilagan in the session on “AI Opportunities and Challenges for Investigative Journalism,” were Gemma Mendoza from Rappler, data scientist Christian Alis, and data analyst Dominic Ligot, where they provided their insights on AI’s increasing impact on society and emphasized the necessity for media professionals to embrace its potential.

Ilagan and fellow speakers reassured journalists that AI is not a threat to their jobs but rather a tool to enhance content quality and newsroom efficiency. They provided guidance on abusive and navigating potential challenges in AI usage. 

“Ever since [generative] AI made its debut, it’s been one ethical problem after another,” said Ligot, founder of Data Ethics PH.

Ligot suggested that AI chatbots can be helpful for writers to improve their articles by giving them feedback. He believes that providing more details and examples to these chatbots can make them smarter. 

Furthermore, he also thinks that creating specialized chatbots from existing content, like Jaemark Tordecilla’s tool, can be very useful. He mentioned that AI can also assist in various journalism tasks like planning, creating, and analyzing content. 

On the other hand, Ligot still warns against thinking that AI can replace journalists completely, as human guidance is still necessary to prompt and guide these AI systems.

“Just because multiple tasks in the value chain of journalism can already be automated, [doesn’t mean that] journalists can be automated out. The way these models work require someone to prompt them or instruct them,” Ligot said.

Meanwhile, Alis noted AI’s usefulness for journalists in transcribing interviews and organizing vast document collections.

As for Mendoza, she stressed the importance of initiating conversations within newsrooms regarding AI adoption. She emphasized the need for clear policies established through discussions between management and staff. This transparency enables newsrooms to navigate AI integration effectively and move forward with confidence.

The PCIJ spearheaded the three-day conference, marking its 35th founding anniversary, where more than 100 journalists from across the Philippines, including BicoldotPH, were able to listen to different speakers, equipping their knowledge on various issues and trends in investigative reporting and media coverage. | Alliah Jane Babila

Photo courtesy: PCIJ