[Research Presentation] Sociotechnical imaginaries of AI-driven journalism

5 septembre 2023

This presentation consists of the second part of the longitudinal research on sociotechnical imaginaries in journalism, published in JALPP.

Dierickx, L. (2021). Between fear and confidence: The dual relationship between journalists and news automation. Journal of Applied Linguistics & Professional Practice, 15(3).

Exploring the sociotechnical imaginaries of AI and the disruptive nature of ChatGPT in journalism

Presented at the ALAPP 2023 Conference, September 5, University of Glasgow


For decades, journalists have had ambiguous relationships with technological innovations, perceived as promises for a brighter future in journalism, threats to professional authority and identity, or tools to augment professional practices. The growing spread of artificial intelligence systems within newsrooms adds new layers to the debates surrounding the disruptive nature of technology. How does it shape or affect the journalistic meta-discourses and representations?

Considering that sociotechnical imaginaries open fundamental questions on the relationship between journalists and technology, our research consists of a corpus analysis of papers published online in English and French over these last five years. We focused on their headline, lead and picture insofar as these elements are the most visible on the front page of news media, the results displayed on search engine pages, and the information shared on social media. Our analytical framework included a linguistic analysis on the lexical, syntactic, semantic and pragmatic levels; and a computational linguistic analysis to identify and prioritise the main professional challenges.

The preliminary results show that professionals are more anxious about technologies that perform writing tasks, particularly when the robot metaphor is mobilised. Automated fact-checking technologies also get negative connotations, mainly because of the mistrust of AI in tackling information disorders. The most prominent topics are the human-machine relationship, the future of work, and the potential to augment journalistic practices. We also observed that positive connotations have increased over the years, except in recent months, in the wake of ChatGPT, which undoubtedly appears as a disruptive game changer.


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