Are journalists at threat of being replaced by robot’s?

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There was an article published in The Guardian titled, “Written out of the story: the robots capable of making the news”.  The article goes into detail on how, Fan Hui, a three-time champion of the east Asian board game, Go, lost to a computer programme that was created by Googles subsidiary, DeepMind. The article suggests that even journalists aren’t safe from the possibility of being replaced by machines. There have been many advancements in terms of computer programming, and the example relating to Fan Hui shows just how advanced AI has become in terms of logic and outsmarting the human mind.  Matthew Jenkin, the individual behind the article writes that maybe in time, AI may be able to perform more creative tasks, possibly posing as a threat to the future of journalists.

Does such a threat already exist? Wordsmith, an artificial writer created by the company Automated Insights, of which is based in North Carolina. Wordsmith cherry-picks words from a dataset and uses them to structure articles. Per the article in The Guardian, in 2015, the company claims to have created more than 1.5 billion pieces of content, up from 300 million in 2013. Also, per this article, there are already some high-profile customers who already use this AI, companies such as Associated Press and Gannet. Gannet publishes USA Today and Yahoo News.

However, there was an article published by the BBC, where Slate’s, Will Oremus states, “”Quakebot neatly illustrates the present limitations of automated journalism,” he writes. “It can’t assess the damage on the ground, can’t interview experts, and can’t discern the relative newsworthiness of various aspects of the story.” This gives us an indication as to the limitations of machines within the journalism sector. One of the benefits of the machine reporter is the ability to produce content in a matter of seconds through the collection of words from a dataset, however as Will Oremus states, these machines can’t assess the damage on the ground, interview experts or analyse a story and decide what is perhaps newsworthy.



The Risks of Photojournalism


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There are many photojournalists who put their lives on the line to capture major events happening around the world, from Robert Capa to Kevin Carter.

Robert Capa had lost his life on the 25th May 1954 after stepping on a landmine while he was capturing photographs, identifying the brutality of war.

Kevin Carter, who was also a photojournalist lost his life through suicide, as he was plagued by the horrors that he had witnessed throughout his short lived career. One of his most famous images that was taken by Carter is probably the image of The Vulture and the Little Girl. The image depicts a young girl wasting away, and behind her stands a vulture who is waiting for its next meal.

Photojournalists, take pictures of events or situations from all around the world for them to be published or broadcast in order to tell a news story. Some photo journalists even go so far as to put their lives on the line to relay information back to the rest of the world.

Another example of a photojournalist who got killed by doing his job is James Foley. Foley was 40 years of age when he had lost his life. He was targeted and executed by the Islamic state. James Foley usually reported instances from the front line, broadcasting the realities of war.

Everyday, journalists are out there risking their lives to shed some light on the brutality and misgivings of the world, if it were not for these individuals that are out there risking their lives we would not have as much information about what is going on around us as we do. A quote that supports this is “Photojournalism is hazardous. It’s not for the fainthearted or those unwilling to risk personal danger. Reporting what happens in the world puts photographers on the edge of constant disaster.” (1994, pp. 313)

There are people out there who are risking their lives every day and are not credited. Journalism in modern days has been viewed under a bad light due to instances such as the phone hacking scandal, but let us not forget about the individuals that are out there in the world, living on the brink of disaster, to keep us informed on the dark realities that surround us.

Other Sources: 

Chapnick, Howard. (1994, pp. 313) Truth Needs No Ally: Inside Photojournalism: Chapter 22

Press intrusion and privacy: where should the lines be drawn?


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On the 4th July 2011, ‘The BBC’ published a story on the Milly Dowler phone hacking scandal.

The subject of the newspaper article was how an investigator at ‘The News of The World’ had allegedly hacked into the phone of murdered schoolgirl, Milly Dowler. The angle is how the phone hacking allegations have had a negative effect on Milly Dowler’s family and interfered with the police investigation.

The phone hacking scandal is something that’s been at the centre of the media for the past few years and eventually foresaw the closure of ‘The News of The World’.

Glen Mulcaire hacked into the teenager’s voicemail while she was missing. ‘The Guardian’ newspaper even go so far to say that he had intercepted the voicemails and stated that the news of the world had also deleted some, this took a toll on police investigations and even gave the parents of the 13 year old girl false hope.

Phone hacking consists of personal communications being expropriated to benefit news cooperation’s. ‘The News of The World’ isn’t the first newspaper to face the backlash and consequences of phone hacking and it certainly won’t be the last.

There were many individuals working for ‘The News of The World’ that took part in the phone hacking saga, this is evident in the book Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch, the book identifies the roles that many individuals played, there was a system. A quote from the book that supports this is “Mulcaire went to work on Gordon Taylor. By 22 February, he had recorded eleven messages that had been left on Taylor’s phone. Mulcaire passed the tape to Miskiw who gave it to a secretary in the Manchester office, who typed out the messages. This was a well-oiled system.” (2015, pp. 43)

The hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone was unethical, not only was her phone hacked but voicemail messages had been eradicated. As previously stated it took a toll on the police investigation as well as giving the parents false hope that their little girl may be found alive.

Other Sources: 

Davies, Nick. (2015, pp.43) Hack Attack: How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch: Vintage