The future of journalism and ethics in the age of ChatGPT

Sandeep Singh Sisodiya

Wednesday, 3 May 2023 (10:40 IST)
The fundamental purpose of journalism should be to serve the society. Media hold immense power, but just as a free-flowing stream of water can engulf and destroy the entire coastal region and devastate crops, an uncontrolled pen can also wreak havoc. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Journalism without a conscience will destroy democracy."
A free news media that includes newspapers, magazines, television, radio, online news portals, and digital news platforms such as new media, remains an integral part of the long and difficult journey of democracy. However, while the media is rapidly transforming itself into new media before us, its development and expansion are also making it grotesque and vulnerable to distortion.
The six major principles of journalism (Canons of Journalism-1922) - responsibility, freedom of the press, accuracy and fairness, impartiality, and appropriate behavior (fair play) - have been the cornerstone of making journalism a profession and ensuring the work and content of journalism. But with the advent of new technologies and innovations, the meaning and interpretation of these principles have become more complex and diverse.
The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning has brought about a new era in journalism. One such example is ChatGPT, a language model capable of generating human-like responses. Although this technology can be used to automate the newsroom process and improve the speed and efficiency of news delivery, it also poses a serious challenge to the principles of journalism and ethics.
In an age where news is increasingly consumed through social media platforms and AI-generated content, the role of journalists and their responsibility to ensure accuracy, impartiality, and ethics has become more critical than ever. Therefore, it is essential that journalists and media organizations alike recognize the importance of adhering to the principles of journalism and ethics in the age of ChatGPT and new media. Only then can they continue to play a crucial role in sustaining democracy and serving society.
Many journalists are being introduced to the possibilities of AI, but did you know that the commercial news industry has been using it extensively for some time now? When you visit a large website, it's likely that at least some of the articles you see are specifically chosen for you based on your reading habits.
Nowadays, websites track your reading habits and apply machine learning to determine which articles should be shown to you so that you stay on that website. The use of generative AI has created new forms of modern journalism, such as personalized news feeds and algorithms based on personal preferences, which are now rapidly spreading any news or content. Social media platforms have all the information about your likes and dislikes, written and shared posts, or all content viewed to display advertisements.
How will a Chabot like ChatGPT affect journalism? When I asked this question to this same AI Chabot, it gave me an answer that it could be used to create "simple news articles," so that journalists have more time to focus on more in-depth and investigative reporting and news.
However, it also cautioned that it should not be relied on as it can provide "biased or incorrect information". It concluded on a philosophical note that ultimately, the impact of language models on journalism will depend on how they are used and for what purpose they are integrated into the news production process.
The use of generative AI also raises concerns about the credibility and accountability of content produced by machines, especially in the context of fake news and deepfakes. Therefore, it is crucial and necessary to establish ethical and professional standards for the use of AI in journalism, so that the benefits of technology can be obtained without endangering the ethical values of journalism.
So what is the solution? Firstly, we need to be eager to adopt and learn new technologies such as artificial intelligence, only then can we understand its pros and cons and create necessary guidelines. Similarly, in the new era, we must focus more on responsible, positive and solution-oriented journalism that is committed to the fundamental principles, policy-based and ethical standards of journalism.
Indian media competing with so called Citizen Journalism, content creators on YouTube, Facebook, and new social media platforms now need serious introspection and development of responsibility and maturity. The journalist community must understand that adhering to ethical standards is in their best interest in maintaining public trust.
The most important thing is that all types of freedom are subject to 'appropriate restrictions' and come with necessary responsibilities. In a democracy, everyone is accountable to the public, therefore journalists and media institutions are also accountable to the people, and they should continue to be so....

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