Global study underlines increasing audience concerns of AI influence on news

An industry report has indicated a growing global trend of consternation about the increasing threat posed by the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in news production and disinformation. 

The study was conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, with its annual Digital News Report canvassing the views and perspectives of almost 100,000 people across 47 countries. 

The report underlines the evolving challenges newsrooms face due to AI and the need for effective solutions to engage the public, maintain trust, and sustain business. 

One of the findings of the survey outlined how just over half of US participants and 63% of those in the UK (2000 people were polled in each country) stated they would be uncomfortable with news predominantly produced by AI, but there was less resistance to the use of the emerging technology to assist journalists with tasks behind the scenes. 

Nic Newman, a senior research associate at the Reuters Institute and lead author of the Digital News study noted that “It was surprising to see the level of suspicion” (toward AI’s influence) adding, “People broadly had fears about what might happen to content reliability and trust”. 

Those two factors are crucial for news publishers as without them, any organization will struggle to retain the required audience base unless pursuing other agendas.

Need to utilize and engage with contemporary audiences

Many traditional news companies are increasingly reliant on subscribers given the squeeze on advertising revenues but the report indicated just 17% of respondents across 20 nations paid for online news, a figure that remains unchanged over the last three years. 

Part of the reason for that is the alternative news platform provided by social media giants such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and TikTok, with that particular app facing ongoing unique challenges in the US.

The Digital News study found these news influencers are playing a more prominent role than mainstream media outlets with more than 5,600 TikTok users confirming they use the video-hosting app for news. 57% intimated they look toward individual personalities for their information compared to 34% who are mainly engaged by journalists or news organizations.

Newman added how newsrooms need to build relationships with contemporary audiences while “strategically using the platforms to connect with people who are trickier to reach, like younger audiences”, with the concession that “We see that these influencers have a bigger role on the (social media) platforms.”

In an evolving and disparate modern media landscape, the overview of the 2024 report had a closer look at the “platform resets” presented by the social giants. The scale and impact of TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube were examined to see why consumers are increasingly choosing visual content as well as to find out which mainstream and alternative channels — and individuals — were gaining the most traction for news output.

The poll returned information on a market that is experiencing further fragmentation, with six media networks reaching at least 10% of study respondents, compared to two, 10 years ago. 

YouTube is used for news by 31% of the global sample each week, with WhatsApp used by 21% while TikTok on 13% has overtaken Twitter/X (on 10%), for the first time.

Image credit: Ideogram



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