The Thomson Foundation is proud to unveil a pioneering free, online training course designed to help newsrooms address a defining issue of the modern age: the ethical use of AI.
Together with leading industry experts, AI in the newsroom: the ethical approach is a unique course aimed at guiding senior journalists on the ethical policies to adopt to make sure their brand remains a trusted source of news.
“When I was writing the course, barely a day went by without a headline warning of the potential risks to society from AI,” says Catherine Mackie, who’s an editorial associate with Thomson Foundation. “Like so much of the training we deliver, this course is very timely.The ethical questions will keep on coming but now there’s now a reference point for newsrooms to use to make sure they’re asking the right questions and making the right ethical decisions.”
Thomson Foundation is at the heart of a global movement to restore public trust in the media and this the first course produced for the JTI Campus. This virtual learning environment helps support media outlets trying to attain the Journalism Trust Initiative (JTI) Standard. The JTI was launched by Reporters Without Borders in 2019 to promote trustworthy journalism and the ‘JTI standard’ is now an officially recognised standardisation incorporated into the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.
“The overriding ethical consideration is accuracy in all things”, says Tim Robinson, a contributor to the course and Publisher and Managing Editor at National World, one of the UK's largest regional multimedia groups. “This debate fundamentally is around accuracy. We wouldn't be having it if we could prove that these tools would produce 100% accurate content without any input from a human being, there would be no debate.”
“The overriding ethical consideration is accuracy in all things”
Expert input also comes from Sabrina Argoub who’s a Programme Manager for Journalism AI, a global initiative that empowers news organisations to use artificial intelligence responsibly. It's a project of Polis, the journalism think tank at the London School of Economics.
"Editors in newsrooms that want to implement AI should be asking themselves why and what is the goal? What is the solution that they're trying to achieve?”, says Sabrina. “AI can be incredibly helpful for journalists and can make the process so efficient, but at the same time, sometimes it's not the best solution for what you're trying to achieve.”
“AI can be incredibly helpful for journalists and can make the process so efficient..."
Transparency with your audience is a key factor to address in any newsroom policy. Dalia Hashim who is AI and Media Integrity Program Lead at Partnership on AI is the third expert in the course. She says an ethical newsroom policy on AI needs to be a ‘moving’ document, something that can be adapted and updated regularly as the technology develops.
“AI technology, because it's based on algorithms and because these algorithms, a lot of the times can adjust and learn from our habits and our choices that we've made, it means that this technology won't always behave the way we thought it behaved when we first purchased it”, says Dalia. "So, the question of ethics and the question of how those ethical considerations change changes with time, because the technology itself changes.”
"So, the question of ethics and the question of how those ethical considerations change changes with time, because the technology itself changes.”
Thomson Foundation is a founding member of the JTI Campus who will provide media outlets with tools to upskill staff and put in place the right editorial policies and processes to reach the JTI standard. The two-year project is being funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
For more on Partnership on AI and its work on AI’s impact on digital media and online information.