Written by: Đorđe Đukić

“Artificial intelligence is not conversant about many matters, both human and natural. Well, it’s artificial, isn’t it?”, this was the response of Dan’s editor-in-chief Mili Prelević, to our question about whether he will reduce the number of staff in the newsroom after this traditional media was the first in Montenegro to start broadcasting news with the help of a virtual presenter.

Given the progress of artificial intelligence, especially the model of the increasingly popular ChatGPT, the question arises whether certain professions will survive. In this case, will robots take place of journalists and presenters?

What is ChatGPT?

The fact that it retold the story of Pinocchio in just a few seconds shows how strong the software of the ChatGPT application is. The ChatGPT software functions on the principle of artificial intelligence.

“This system is based on so-called language models which, based on a huge amount of text, “learns” how language works,” explains Bojan Perkov, digital policy coordinator of the SHARE Foundation.

He indicates that this is how correlations are created and various types of tasks are used, e.g. to generate a response as ChatGPT based on the user’s query or text input.

Does a robot journalist have the right to make a mistake?

Although it will provide you with answers, and write homeworks and seminar papers, the app still makes a lot of mistakes. Perkov suggests that when it comes to journalism, ChatGPT should primarily be used like other tools that journalists use in their daily tasks. “It should be borne in mind that these tools are inclined to errors and even create non-existent sources for certain assertions, e.g. it happened that in response to a inquiry, it shares a link to a text on reputable media that has never been published, meaning, the one which does not exist when you try to visit it”, he says.

Long-time journalist Duško Mihailović also concurs with this, since, as he claims, the AI ​​algorithm cannot verify facts, and when used in the media can “subserve” to spread false narratives and misinformation.

“Perhaps this is best exemplified in the case of Microsoft, which last year, justified cutting costs by discharging about 70 journalists and editors from their MSN news site, and replaced them with an AI algorithm. Being more of a news aggregator than a news creator, it ended up publishing a bunch of fake news about mermaids and Bigfoot. It started with the publication of a fake story claiming that Claire “Grimes” Boucher publicly called out ex-boyfriend Elon Musk on Twitter for not paying child support. The tweet on which the story was based was a fabrication, but that didn’t stop the disreputable publisher of the Inquisitr from publishing it, and MSN from distributing it to a much wider audience. MSN’s AI algorithm was particularly favorable towards Exemplore as well, a humorous paranormal and conspiracy news site that sells stories about cryptids, signs of Atlantis, and magic crystals. Thus, MSN marketed to its much larger audience, as credible, articles about fishermen who catch mermaids in their nets, Bigfoot, NASA’s rover that hunts the “dark beast” on Mars, also the capture of the biblical angel over Los Angeles.”, says Mihailović.

Ana, the first robot-journalist in Montenegro

While AI is still mostly used by IT experts in practice, recently the Montenegrin daily DAN, for the needs of its online edition, launched a project to broadcast news with the help of artificial intelligence, i.e. a virtual presenter, Ana AI.

Even though it is known as a traditional media, Dan decided to implement the project because they have been using all modern technologies for years, explains DAN’s editor Mili Prelević.

“Our WEB TV uses smart robot cameras, our journalists are equipped with the most modern devices and equipment with which they can directly, i.e. live, at any time and from any place, join our portal directly, i.e. life. With a virtual presenter, which we are improving day by day, it is simply easier for us to do news for the portal and WEB TV. Ana AI, our virtual presenter, is always ready for filming, with make-up, calm and steady. We will soon rectify her pronunciation, and she reads the news without a mistake. There are no replays, retakes, nervousness. All this helps create a calmer atmosphere in the newsroom, and her “arrival” has enabled journalists to concentrate on what they are doing, i.e. on creating news and other information, without thinking about how they will look in front of the cameras and whether they will spend a huge amount of time during filming.” points out Prelević.

Prelević also explains how a virtual journalist does her job: “First, the editor preapares a source of news and images, after which the artificial intelligence processes the news and generates a condensed version. Then, the TTS system is used, which produces audio in our language based on the text. We insert that audio into the system that launches the virtual host and  it generates her movements based on the audio recording. The character generated in this manner is then classically edited in the studio and if we have the possibility, we get the final video on the same system. In each segment, editors, journalists, and a skilled operator oversee and evaluate the quality of the obtained material. The system we use is fully automatable for some video formats, but we still don’t use all the possibilities. The difference compared to traditional journalistic work exists, but only at the finish of the realization of the imagined show. The difference is necessary to provide our readers with something new,” he says.

As he continues, in the printed edition of the newspaper DAN, they published a text that was entirely written by artificial intelligence.

All over the world, there is a fear that in the future artificial intelligence could affect the reduction of employees not only in the media but also in many other areas. On the other hand in DAN, they claim that they will increase the number of employees. “The number of journalists will be increased. Artificial intelligence creates new possibilities for us. We did not take this step to reduce the number of employees but to provide our readers with the opportunity to access information in a more modern and technologically improved way. Creating new opportunities will result in  creating new jobs. Everything that our virtual host Ana AI, for example, reads, someone from the newsroom has to prepare”, says Prelević.

To whom should the Pulitzer be awarded?

In the “battle” between artificial intelligence and traditional journalism, Google revealed that it is in the early stages of a project that, with certain tools based on artificial intelligence, will assist journalists in writing headlines and articles. The rapidly evolving technology is already raising concerns about whether it can be trusted to generate accurate reports and whether it could eventually lead to people losing their jobs as journalists and media outlets are already struggling financially.

Journalist Duško Mihailović outlines that this system should not replace journalists, but only serve to benefit journalists. “Artificial intelligence, at least for now, still functions on the principle of input, that is, data that we make available to it, just like any other software, after all. The human inteliect is still necessary for context, and the mere transmission of information is certainly not journalism. Certainly, the application of AI technologies can be quite beneficial for journalists in their daily work. This means that some processes can be automated and time saved allowing journalists to focus more quickly on writing. For example, when it comes to censoring comments on portals. This is a very thankless task for journalists, and the use of technology can help to quickly find and remove inappropriate comments.

The SHARE Foundation also concludes that a journalist possesses qualities which the artificial intelligence model cannot have, such as intuition, experience, social capital, thinking “outside the box” as well as other characteristics that distinguish humans.

This text was produced with the financial support of the National Endowment for Democracy. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and publishers of the Media Institute of Montenegro and does not necessarily reflect the views of the donors.