Media Quality Yearbook: AI in News Production Takes a Critical View

The Swiss population is critical of the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in news production. This is shown by a representative survey conducted by the Research Center Public and Society (Fög) at the University of Zurich. Co-author Linards Udris spoke with Werbewoche.ch about the study.

Marc Holitscher, Katia Murmann, Andrea Masüger, Angella Müller and Mark Eisenegger (from left to right) discussed the quality of Swiss media at the panel discussion of this year's Yearbook presentation. Rafael von Matt (not in the picture) moderated the discussion. (Image: Werbewoche.ch/Beat Hürlimann)

As the Fög on Monday at the presentation of the latest yearbook on the quality of the Swiss media announced, only 29 percent of the Swiss population would read articles generated entirely by AI. This is shown by the responses of 1254 people from German- and French-speaking Switzerland who took part in the Fög survey in July of this year.

 

For texts written by media professionals without the use of AI, on the other hand, the readiness rate is 84 percent. "For the audience, the role of journalists in reporting is still central," summarized Fög research director Daniel Vogler at the presentation of the study in Zurich.

(Graphic: Fög)

Acceptance depends on the topic

The survey also shows that the acceptance of AI in the media depends on the topic: In the case of news about the weather, sports and stock market prices, or about well-known people, respondents can more readily imagine reading AI-generated articles. By contrast, acceptance is significantly lower for news about politics, business, science or culture.

(Graphic: Fög)

Another finding: only around ten percent of respondents would be willing to pay for media articles written entirely with AI. A clear majority of respondents also want media entrepreneurs to be compensated by AI providers when text robots such as ChatGPT access journalistic content.

The Fög recommends that Swiss media declare when they use AI. "This is the only way journalism can distinguish itself from the growing number of dubious offers," says director Mark Eisenegger, according to the statement. The survey showed that more than 80 percent of respondents want media content generated with AI declared accordingly.

Co-study author Linards Udris from Fög explains details of the study in an interview with Werbewoche.ch.

More and more "news deprived

In its annual yearbook, the Fög also writes that the number of so-called news deprived people in Switzerland has continued to grow. It now reaches 43 percent of the population. This refers to people who hardly ever read, listen to or watch news. Asked about the type of news that interests Swiss people, many mention "positive" or "constructive" journalism, which takes up positive news or not only presents problems but also discusses possible solutions. An expansion of constructive journalism could therefore counteract increasing news deprivation.

On the other hand, the Fög also notes that the quality of reporting by the Swiss media has reached a new high since 2015. The Corona pandemic and the Ukraine war contributed to this, according to the center. According to the Fög, the top places in media quality are occupied by public radio and television, ahead of private television, online subscription newspapers and SRG online platforms.

In the current yearbook, the media researchers specifically examined the quality of news posts on social media such as TikTok and Instagram. The conclusion was that the Swiss media publish more classified articles on these platforms than on their news platforms. This is also positive, Linards Udris of the Fög told the media.

Linards Udris shows that Swiss media are publishing more classifying posts on social media. (Image: Werbewoche.ch/Beat Hürlimann)

To ensure that the number of news deprived people does not increase, journalism should also include positive news. The research center recommends not only describing problems, but also pointing out possible solutions.

Since the first edition in 2010 of the "Jahrbuch Qualität der Medien" (Yearbook of Media Quality), the Research Center Public and Society (Fög) at the University of Zurich has been providing current key figures on media quality, media use, media concentration and the development of the Swiss media system on an annual basis. All media genres are examined. The researchers also classify trends and current events. The main findings of the current issue can be viewed here. (SDA/pd/swi)

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