They say information is power and the only profession that keeps you well informed about the events unfolding across the globe is journalism. Students and writers flock to be a part of the media organisations to experience the thrill of getting constant news updates and putting across their opinions on various topics. It’s a high that never fades away (as long as you’re still a part of the industry). And if you are addicted to staying updated with the constant flow of news minute by minute, the twenty-first century is the right era for you as the digital journalism is growing stronger every day.
But what if someone were to tell you that your days in media are over? That your dreams of touching lives of millions of people with the words you write are over?
As shocking as it sounds, but journalism in the days to come is going to undergo a dramatic change. A change that would not only revolutionise the way information is dispersed but also create a shortage of jobs for the budding journalists.
Xiao Nan, which is a robot journalist, recently got its first article published in China’s Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily. If robot taking over the job of a journalist wasn’t a threat already, here’s an additional piece of information that will crush your dreams. It took the robot only a second (yes, just a single second) to write a 300-characters long article on the Spring Festival travel rush. Further, professor Wan Xiaojun, who leads the team studying and developing such robots, believes that Xiao Nan is better has a stronger data analysis capacity and can write articles (both reports and short stories) quicker than the humans (no kidding!).
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If robots like Xiao Nan manage to find a sanctuary in the media giants across the globe, our days as a journalist are over. But Professor Xiaojun believes otherwise. While ‘Robo journalists’ may be quicker at analysing data and writing articles they cannot replace the tremendous groundwork that goes on in becoming a successful journalist (at least not yet). Fostering connections with the sources, conducting interviews, responding to questions intuitively, still remain out of bounds for these robots. He believes that these robots can only act as supplements and not take over the jobs of human journalists who sometimes even risk their lives to get the latest news updates.
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While this might sound a bit comforting at the moment, the fact that the robots are out there, waiting for the humans to design them wise enough to take over their jobs, raises concerns that journalists cannot ignore. Given that the tech giants have already designed AI so strong that they can even compose a poem and direct a movie, is what makes the entire scenario further unsettling.
Technological evolution is happening at an exponential pace and whether we as journalists will be able to keep up with its pace remains a thing to speculate.