AI, Mediatoo & Co.: That was Journalism Day 2023

More than 150 interested people accepted the invitation from the Quality in Journalism Association (Quajou) to Winterthur. Artificial intelligence, the war in the Middle East and #MediaToo were all on the agenda at #JourTag23.

Picture: QuaJou/Raphael Hünerfauth

How do we remain independent in times of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation? A playbook for journalists was provided by keynote speaker Uli Köppen at Journalism Day.23. She heads the AI + Automation Lab at Bayerischer Rundfunk. Köppen showed examples of how journalists can use AI technology and automation to achieve their goals. On the way there, editorial teams should first review and improve their own workflows instead of relying on "technological solutionism". "Ask questions and don't just provide answers," Köppen advises. It is also important that journalists take an interest in the technologies behind their own products.

AI is Janus-faced. This is particularly evident in its ability to create visual subjects in a matter of seconds: on the one hand, this opens up completely new opportunities, but on the other hand, it creates unexpected dangers, especially in times of deepfake. Illustrator and cartoonist Ruedi Widmer and satirist Karpi have already experimented with the new methods, while picture editors such as Lea Truffer from NZZ am Sonntag are confronted with new questions in their day-to-day editorial work. "As a creator, I am completely enthusiastic about AI," said Karpi. "AI makes me spiritual: it enables 'guided hallucination'."

Picture: QuaJou/Raphael Hünerfauth

Boundless horror

The war in the Middle East was also discussed in a workshop. Specifically, the question was: How can impartiality be guaranteed and manipulation and falsification ruled out? Sophie Timmermann, deputy head of the Correctiv fact-checking team, and Daniel Egli, Head of Newsroom Coordination at Blick, were also present. This program item was moderated by Karina Rierola, foreign editor at SRF. Freelance journalist Inga Rogg also joined in from Jerusalem: "Both sides are going through a trauma, we have to listen to both - we must not play off the different suffering against each other." Egli asked: "What is a source? Hamas? The IDF? They all have a bias. Since October 7, we have had to use the subjunctive in an inflationary way."

Salvador Atasoy, journalist at SRF, Simona Boscardin, Co-President of Young Journalists Switzerland, and Monika Hirzel, Managing Director of the law firm BeTrieb, discussed with presenter Hannes Britschgi why media companies find it so difficult to deal with #MediaToo. "We breed such cases ourselves. The 'ruthless' prototype is promoted in journalism," said Atasoy. Boscardin had a theory as to why specific cases are often "only" open secrets: "Due to the cult of personality in the industry, it is sometimes difficult to rebel against a person."

Another workshop dealt with the question of why so many media professionals are fed up with journalism. Hanna Wick (ex-SRF), Janosch Tröhler (ex-Ringier) and Markus Dütschler (ex-SDA and Tamedia) reported on their reasons for leaving journalism. "Journalists are self-exploitative and glorify their profession far too much. And that is an invitation to be exploited," said Tröhler. Wick added: "I've met so many people in journalism who have absolutely no idea about leadership."

Credit Suisse was sailing towards its end and for months hardly anything got through to the Swiss media. International financial media dominated the reporting. Things were very different when UBS was rescued or Swissair was grounded: Swiss media were right in the middle of it. The top management stood up and explained. This change was discussed on #JourTag23 with Glencore Head of Communications Sarah Antenore, Allianz Head of Communications Hans-Peter Nehmer and SRF business journalist Reto Lipp. The latter said: "Whenever possible, I bypass communications departments. The direct line is simply better."
Tricky research

Investigating the mafia is a delicate and time-consuming task. After the death of mafia boss Matteo Messina Denaro, experienced investigative journalist Maria Roselli (RSI) traveled to Sicily to trace the Cosa Nostra's threads back to Switzerland. On Journalism Day, she talked about how the "modern" mafia operates, the dicey situations she has already found herself in and how she manages to keep an overview during several months of research. Stefano Stillitano also presented the "Osservatorio ticinese sulla criminalità organizzata", which was founded almost three years ago.

Tiktok, Instagram, YouTube and the like are taking over from traditional media. More and more people are getting their information primarily from these channels. However, as machines set the tone on social media and traditional gatekeeping by journalists is practically a thing of the past, the public's timelines are flooded with fake news and shallow entertainment. Cedric Schild (Izzy Projects) and Fee Anabelle Riebeling (20 Minuten) spoke to Franz Fischlin, Co-President of QuaJou, about how to communicate relevant content and, above all, arouse interest among young people.

Quality in journalism

How can the next generation be encouraged to consume media without the offerings drifting into ingratiating infotainment? The final panel with three editors-in-chief appointed this year took up these and other questions and threads, some of which had already been discussed at other events on the day. Nadine Sommerhalder (Watson), Steffi Buchli (Blick) and Desirée Pomper (20 Minuten) discussed, among other things, what they understand by quality in journalism. "The reliability of the information we provide to people determines our raison d'être," said Buchli on behalf of all media representatives. Fact-checking will therefore become increasingly important.

QuaJou draws a positive balance after JournalismDay.23. "With AI, the Middle East conflict and the working climate in journalism, we covered all the current topics. We are really proud of this year's program and the team behind it. The JourTag was a content-rich and inspiring day. We hope that we were able to make a contribution to the quality of journalism in Switzerland and to networking within the industry," says Co-President Fabienne Kinzelmann.


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