Last month, the London School of Economics (LSE), in conjunction with Google News Initiative released an in-depth report on the impact of AI in the newsroom entitled ‘New powers, new responsibilities: A global survey of journalism and artificial intelligence’.

The overwhelming takeaway was this:

The future impact of AI is uncertain, but it has the potential for wide-ranging and profound influence on how journalism is made & consumed.

The truth is, technology has always impacted journalism.  The widespread use of the Internet changed distribution methods.  Computers improved productivity.  Before that the printing press allowed for the creation of newspapers.  Now, the increased use of AI technology in the newsroom is expected to pave the way for even more changes: personalised distribution of content, automated production of content, and enhanced search tools to help locate images, videos and facts quicker.

One key AI technology that is expected to reshape journalism is better automatic transcriptions.

Automatic transcriptions have been around for a few years. However, enhanced AI technology will soon generate almost 100% accurate automatic transcriptions, making them more reliable for journalists to use.  

So just how is better automatic transcriptions expected to reshape journalism?  Let’s look at the ways.

Automatic Transcriptions are Expected to Further Enhance Efficiency

Many of the journalists surveyed in the report noted that they aspired to use AI technologies to help free up resources for enhanced newsroom efficiency.  In fact, 68% listed it as their key motive for wanting to use AI in the newsroom.

Automatic transcription tools were listed as one AI technology that could help.

Manually transcribing audio to text by listening, pausing, and typing is a time-consuming process that can take up to four hours for every hour of audio that needs to be transcribed. However, automatic transcription tools can convert the same hour of audio in just a few minutes.  

Continued advancements in AI technology are also expected to increase the accuracy of automatic transcriptions to where 100% accuracy, no matter what the dialect, should be possible. This AI technological enhancement will free-up journalists time even further by reducing the amount of editing they are currently doing with current automatic transcription software.

Automatic transcription tools will further help journalist efficiency when searching for relevant content for an article or news clip. With a text document in hand, journalists ‘can pluck out a killer quote from an audio file’ with a simple CTRL + F search, instead of listening through hours of audio.

Automatic Transcriptions are Expected to Help Generate Better Content

Today’s news industry is currently fighting for economic stability, relevance, and, more importantly, public trust. For a journalist and media outlet to survive, they need to adopt any tool possible that can help them generate more interesting, more accurate content faster. Automatic transcription is expected to help.

For one, as noted above, automatic transcriptions can reduce the amount of mundane work that a journalist needs to do, freeing up their time to focus on content creation, which will ultimately lead to better stories.

As one respondent put it,

We need to support journalists by reducing the amount of grunt work they need to do and improve journalism by allowing them to focus on what really matters and what they do best.

Additionally, converting audio to text helps journalists discover stories in data and find more data in stories. This is because it is quicker to scan text for pieces of information than it is to listen to hours of audio. Moreover, other AI tools can scan the text document as data allowing automated tagging of certain topics or keywords. The ability to analyse data sources quicker and cross reference information will help journalists spot trends and story ideas that could previously remain hidden from human eyes, leading to better and more interesting content.

The study also cited how the savings generated from using automatic transcription tools could be reinvested to improve the quality and effectiveness of journalism.

Automatic Transcriptions are Expected to Aid Journalism

Automatic transcription tools can also use audio to text algorithms to generate subtitles for videos.

Subtitles help aid journalism by making video content accessible to all, particularly by the Deaf, hard of hearing, and non-native language speakers.  Adding subtitles to videos helps also helps comprehension of content by all users and allows the content to be indexed by search engines. This is becoming increasingly important in a world where 82% of all Internet traffic will be video by 2022.

The transcripts of videos can also aid journalism in another way: automated content creation for social media.  Other AI tools can scroll through the text content of the video, something not possible with just audio, to create automated posts.  

As one survey respondent replied:

We use an algorithm for our posts on social media. Starting from RSS feeds or from email, it can write posts on Facebook and tweets. It manipulates the text, publishes updates at scheduled times, sends emails and reminders for our cross postings.

The above examples make it clear to see how automatic transcriptions are expected to have a wide-ranging and profound influence on how journalist content is made and consumed going forward.

However, if journalists and media outlets want to stay on the cutting edge, they will need to continually inform themselves about the latest AI technologies and begin incorporating them into their newsrooms.

If you are a journalist and you are interested in how automatic transcriptions can aid you, help you create better content, and improve your efficiency, then drop us a line.