February 1, 2023
The ethics of using AI
More news outlets are using artificial intelligence to write or supplement stories. Recently, Futurism reported CNET had been quietly publishing articles generated by an unspecified “AI engine” without noting they were bot-written. The news sparked outrage and discussion about the ethics and impact of using AI. “While there is no need for a ban on artificial intelligence in journalism, its use is best limited and considered on a case-by-case basis,” said SPJ National President Claire Regan. “AI, for example, can be an efficient, cost-effective way to convert huge volumes of numbers-based corporate data into short, routine stories on business reports. But so much of journalism is more personal. I’ve devoted most of my career to hyperlocal journalism, which faces many obstacles. Humans are best at connecting intimately with humans to tell their stories, which is what hyperlocal journalism is all about. I’m a passionate obituary writer and know how families value the human touch.” When deciding to use AI, journalists should keep the SPJ Code of Ethics in mind, including being ethical and transparent. “Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public,” the Code states. Journalists should explain ethical choices and processes to audiences and encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.