AI Journalism Raises Alarm in India

The India Today Group has unveiled its first full-time AI news anchor, Sana, at a launch event attended by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The India Today Group has unveiled its first full-time AI news anchor, Sana, who will present news updates several times a day on the Aaj Tak news channel. At the launch event, Kalli Purie, the group’s vice chairperson, described Sana as “bright, gorgeous, ageless, and tireless”. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in attendance at the event. Sana is the first AI news anchor in India and is part of the India Today Group’s effort to use technology to enhance its news coverage.

Bot’s Appearance

In 2018, China’s Xinhua news agency created the world’s first AI-powered male news anchor using computer graphics. This year, it debuted its first AI female news anchor. Last month, Russia’s Svoye TV introduced Snezhana Tumanova as its first virtual weather presenter. AI-generated news presenters are becoming increasingly popular, with the introduction of the humanlike chatbot ChatGPT last November.

Sana is the latest AI-powered news presenter, with a human-like appearance and the ability to read data using text-to-speech technology. AI-generated news presenters are revolutionizing the way news is presented, with the potential to make news more accessible and engaging.

Journalism Jobs Under Threat?

NewsGPT, the world’s first news channel powered by artificial intelligence, has been launched in March, raising concerns about its impact on the jobs of media professionals. Shailaja Bajpai, a media critic, believes that while AI can do news bulletins, it may not be able to react and conduct debates the way individual anchors do today.

She suggests that explanatory journalism, on-the-ground reporting, and investigative journalism could be the answer as AI bots may not be able to replicate human observation and experience. Bajpai believes that media professionals must be prepared to change and adapt to withstand this challenge or risk becoming obsolete.

Is it a Boon or a Curse?

Pamela Philipose, a media columnist, and ombudsperson warns of the potential of AI to create disinformation and undermine the credibility of journalism. Rajdeep Sardesai, a news anchor, believes that AI should be used as a tool to help, not as a replacement, and that it does not need an AI presenter to push propaganda.

AI applications pose a real threat to the newsroom, as they are more efficient than a journalist drawing a salary. The rise of AI also raises concerns about job security and the potential for AI to perpetuate existing biases in the data it uses to generate news. Media professionals must be aware of the potential of AI and use it responsibly to ensure the trustworthiness of journalism.

Transforming the Debate

The rising costs of on-the-ground reporting have led to prime-time TV news becoming dominated by studio debates, where some media houses have become megaphones for the powerful. This has caused corporate and political influences to overwhelm media organizations, leading to a worrying trend where truth is decided by those in power.

AI anchors and applications could further trigger a democratic breakdown, and so caution is urged. Nidhi Razdan, an Indian journalist and television personality, believes that AI anchors may do a better job at being objective than their real-life counterparts, but that awareness and caution are needed when it comes to AI in journalism.

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Chris Griffin
Chris has had a career as an advisor to the tech industry, incubating start-ups in the tech industry. Welcoming Chris to contribute his expertise covering the latest things he sees in blockchain