Media companies need to invest more in data collection and analysis. That is what prof. Lucy Küng of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism said in the radioshow MediaMatters on New Business Radio. "It is the players with wealthy owners such as The Washington Post (owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos) and the South China Post (owned by Ali Baba billionaire Jack Ma) who are taking steps in the field of data and artificial intelligence. They are investing heavily in this," says Küng.
Data is incredibly important for media companies, says Küng. "It's a kind of 'pixy dust' (magic ingredient), absolutely crucial. It gives media the ability to generate content that the audience wants. And the ability to make money with that content. It is also fascinating to see that data is really essential in changing the culture on editorial boards. Journalists get a much better understanding of the needs of their audience."
Jeremy Gilbert, Head of Strategic Initiatives of The Washington Post, compares data and AI with the introductions of computers to editors. "It's hard to imagine now how every reporter and editor without a computer could do his job. I also believe that data and AI are becoming so widespread and so common that people will not remember what it was like when we had to do without.
AI is not always very complicated, says Gilbert. "At the Washington Post, for example, we use AI to check spelling and grammar. But also to check whether editors keep to the agreed writing style in their articles.
AI is sometimes seen as a threat, but according to Gilbert this technology complements the work of journalists. "We use AI to discover stories in the patterns in large datasets. But also to give readers better recommendations. And we also use AI to produce automated articles, so that we can offer readers more than we could with the existing editors.
You can listen to the podcast of the entire interview (in 4 parts) with Lucy Küng and Jeremy Gilbert below.
MediaMatters is broadcasted live every first Thursday of the month between 3 and 4 pm (CET) on New Business Radio. The podcast is afterwards available on Soundcloud.