The need for ethical and accurate journalism remains the focal issue in today’s media, agreed a panel gathered at the Global Media Congress held in Abu Dhabi.
The panel, which consisted of editors-in-chief from Panama and China along with the founder of a tech company, voiced their views on the state of today’s traditional media organizations and technology.
“If the choice is whether to be first or best, I choose the latter,” said Rita Vasquez, of La Prensa newspaper in Panama. “I tell my group to follow suit. There is a massive mistrust between the public and media organizations and that is because of shady journalism, the spread of fake news and the fact that a lot of outlets are aligned with political parties and governments and therefore report with bias.”
She added: “Also, people are no longer interested in reading long analysis and stories, which is also affecting the role traditional media plays in society nowadays.”
However, Abdullah Abu Sheikh, founder and CEO of Astra Tech, finds that, “in today’s age, the first casualty is traditional media and not the truth.”
As the boss of a tech-based company, Abdullah explained how a truthful story can be produced in record time. “The gap of trust between people and media companies continues to grow and that is because people are looking for unbiased truths,” he said.
While artificial intelligence is highly effective, it nonetheless comes with its dangers and using its tools to spread fake news can result in disastrous outcomes.
“There must be a joint effort between tech companies, governments and journalism agencies to cooperate and coordinate to combat fake news and that is for the greater good of society,” said Abbas, who cited the example of the malicious fake news story stemming from the ongoing war between Israel and Gaza that claimed 40 Israeli babies had been beheaded. The story rapidly spread around the world despite there being absolutely no truth to it, with the Israeli government even having to deny it.
Revenue generation has also become a problem for traditional media outlets.
Liu Yonggang, editor-in-chief of The Paper in China, says the development of social media and AI tools have forced media outlets to find new ways to produce stories and maintain revenues. “We are establishing programs and workshops to find ways to combine digital and traditional media. Journalism students face confusion upon graduation in the job market and we need to find a solution to that,” he said.
“While AI can be cost and time efficient to produce various forms of content, we cannot dismiss traditional media and journalists. We are cooperating with universities and tech companies and are confident in trying new ways to produce stories,” Liu added. “We can also utilize AI to combat fake news by using its tools to verify the translations, locations and timing of a certain story.”
The battle between technology, social media and traditional outlets continues to grow as newspapers struggle to remain relevant.