Jersey City — It’s hard out here for your favorite reporters.
More than 30 media outlets/publications, including household names like NPR, Bustle, Buzzfeed, and more have partook in layoffs this year – leaving hundreds of newsroom staff members unemployed in an increasingly cut throat industry.
Afterall, media jobs are already hard to come by and the competition is steep. Communication and media degrees ranked as the 10th most popular major for U.S. college students in the 2020-2021 school year. Beyond the world of academia, there is no shortage of talented, digital storytellers in the U.S who are using the internet to self-teach their way into prestigious media jobs that once required a degree.
Those who are lucky enough to secure a full-time newsroom role/media position are often met with low-entry salaries, lack of work-life balance living in a 24/7 newscycle and suffer from creative burnout.
As the world increasingly explores the likes of generative AI platforms like ChatGPT, media workers are beginning to question how AI can be used in the newsroom and if the use of it is a threat to their jobs as humans.
On one hand, generative AI can serve as a time efficiency tool in the newsroom (and if there’s one thing reporters need most is more time to meet a deadline). AI platforms can help journalists cutdown time on outlining article points, refining research, and even curating an image to accompany their work.
On a not so positive note, generative AI can also do things like write out full-length articles and even replicate a person’s voice, which serves as an added potential threat to on-air and radio workers.
Beyond the pros and cons, some argue that AI can simply eat away at journalistic integrity if it becomes widely used in newsrooms.
Afterall, journalists are trained to follow a universal code of ethics. Some of the core principles of journalism include honesty, integrity, accuracy, contextual truth, transparency, respect and fairness – all of which cannot be replicated by AI, yet.
As AI advances, it is fair for media workers to wonder about its impact on their careers. Newsrooms have already begun to explore AI as a tool to structure articles that are later completed by a human reporter. The same thought process with AI has been applied to editing and fact-checking articles ahead of a human editor’s final touch.
While I’m all for efficiency, it is unfortunate to think that such a competitive industry to work in stands to become more difficult to enter if AI begins to replace the need for multiple key roles in newsrooms.
I’d advise Gen Z reporters who are concerned about AI’s impact on media careers to hone in on what their value-add is at work that can prevent them from being replaced by AI. Perhaps this is their empathy when interviewing or their large network of publicists who keep stories coming. Whatever it is, locate it, define it, master it and commit to always improving.
Keeping it gee, those who learn to work with AI as a tool to help their career may stand for fighting chance in comparison to those who choose to repel it. Emerging and existing media workers should try to not let the uncertainty of AI’s use in media scare and instead choose to explore its larger benefit.