Machines are nothing without human’s wisdom

Eleni Stamatoukou




We must remember that every time the machine produces news following a command, the reporter, the editor, and the editor-in-chief will always have the last word.

In the Greek mass media, until recently, the success of a report, an investigation, and even of simple news is judged exclusively by clicks, shares, and engagement, without taking into account the correctness, the quality [content, grammar, etc.] of the text, and the exclusivity of the report.

In many Greek newsrooms, due to a reduced budget, there are no editors to check the texts; as a result, the editing and fact-checking of the texts are dangerously left to the experience of the respective journalist.

The hunt for clicks and shares -because they will bring more ads and thus ensure the survival of the media- has led Greek media to use various techniques such as "click baits" or, at worst, fake news, which can only momentarily distract the readers' attention, sometimes causing their dissatisfaction.

Abroad, big media companies are using AI SEO [search engine optimization] strategies to upgrade and make more “popular” their reporting. In Greece, the Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education, and the Mass Media of the Faculty of Communication and Mass Media Studies of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens have created an innovative platform for Greek journalists and newsrooms.

SEO: an extra “skill” for journalists

After the decline in the number of printed publications, foreign publishing companies in the United Kingdom and the United States invested in their electronic publications. So, to secure more readers, they created their own section where SEO content editors deal exclusively with how an article will be able to go as high as possible on search engines to attract the interest of more readers.

An SEO content editor helps publications create compelling, informative articles optimized for the web by making them more visible in search engines. It also helps target specific readers, regions, and even platforms and gain more advertising. Abroad, a journalist having this skill is considered an extra asset.

Many companies in the automotive industry,  medical services, etc., have included SEO experts in their marketing departments.

But now AI is also coming to help SEO through machine learning-informed algorithms and intent-based search. Today, AI SEO platforms speed up time-consuming but necessary SEO tasks. Although these tools may seem smart, they cannot replace the experience and wisdom of a human being.

Source: wired.com

“For AI to be able to generate useful recommendations, it has to be prompted by someone who understands SEO,” writes senior SEO Helen Pollitt at the US daily news Search Engine, focusing on digital marketing, land advertising technology, and the martech landscape.

Pollitt narrates that she discussed an issue with an engineer trying to solve an indexing issue. The engineer had turned to ChatGPT for a solution before contacting the SEO team.

“Unfortunately, no matter what they told ChatGPT about the issue they were trying to solve, ChatGPT continued to give the same advice – a solution I had to advise against,” stresses Pollit.

A quality news AI machine made in Greece

The Laboratory of New Technologies in Communication, Education, and the Mass Media created “iQJournalism,” an innovative platform that aims to help journalists create quality and, at the same time, "successful" texts for social media.

The idea for the project started from the doctoral thesis of Dr. Katerina Sotirakou, who is also the head of the research.

The Laboratory has conducted important research on the perceived quality of journalistic articles, which depends to a large extent on the judgment and satisfaction of the reader. It has collected many publications with a simultaneous recording of the reader's behavior and evaluation in them. Besides that, through text analysis and machine learning techniques, the researchers tried to find a correlation between the characteristics of an article and the reader's evaluation. Based on these, “iQJournalism” will guide journalists in real time to write a successful and, at the same time, quality article and advance its dissemination.

The project coordinator and scientific director of the Laboratory, Associate Professor Konstantinos Mourlas, in an interview with the Greek media outlet Business Daily in September, stated that the Athenian-Macedonian news agency will be the first organization to use iQJournalism on a pilot basis with the ambition to enter several newsrooms in Greece

"Artificial intelligence can make the life of journalists easier and accelerate the digital transformation of the media in our country," Murlas stressed.

AI’s bright and dark side

Certainly, artificial intelligence can help a newsroom move faster. It could find all the popular words in search engines or social media and artificially insert them into the text news. By using AI, the media will save time and probably manage to see an increase in their lost readership and then an increase in advertising revenues, something that will ensure their survival. That’s the bright side of the story.

On the other hand, media companies may see an opportunity to cut costs, which will cause journalists’ layoffs once again. In addition, another issue that raises a lot of debate is whether a machine can adhere to journalistic ethics and judge what is ethically correct. How is it possible to program a computer so that it can make the right decision when there is breaking news about victims of trafficking or domestic violence?

Amidst all this concern, journalists and journalistic organizations must seize the opportunity to learn to use AI to make their lives easier and to hold governments and companies accountable.

We must remember that every time the machine produces news following a command, the reporter, the editor, and the editor-in-chief will always have the last word; they are who decide whether the text is based on thorough and accurate reporting. Machines are nothing without humans’ wisdom.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Institute of Communication Studies or the donor.

Eleni Stamatoukou

Eleni Stamatoukou is a journalist known for her work on various topics, including migration, border control policies, and current events. She has contributed to publications such as Balkan Insight and Solomon. Her articles cover a wide range of subjects, including issues related to security, surveillance, cyber security, and international relations.