In response to this unprecedented challenge, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and international partners, including Wan-Ifra, are launching a committee, chaired by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa, to draw up a charter to advise regulatory initiatives in this area.
The committee comprises 21 distinguished members from 13 countries, academics and professionals in journalism, AI and digital technologies. Led by Maria Ressa, a journalist and the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the international committee will deliver the results of its work before the end of the year 2023.
The committee's role is to develop a set of principles, rights, and obligations for information professionals regarding using AI-based systems. RSF will manage the initiative in partnership with leading NGOs defending journalism (FPU, EJN, CPJ, IPI, GFMD), media representative organisations for the press (Wan-Ifra) and TV (ABU, EBU), as well as investigative journalism consortia (ICIJ, OCCRP). The members' reputation and the partner organisations' diversity should make this text a reference in the media industry.
Wan-Ifra, which represents more than 18,000 publications through its 60 member associations, is joining the initiative to facilitate effective coordination of efforts between the committee's member organisations and other initiatives of its associate members worldwide. "Faced with this major challenge, it is important that the profession, both the representatives of editorial teams and media owners, act in a concerted manner," said Vincent Peyrègne, CEO of Wan-Ifra.
AI will radically transform the world of journalism. How can we guarantee the right to reliable information when AI generates most texts and images? How can we ensure editorial independence if newsrooms use proprietary language models to suggest, proofread, or even write articles? How can we prevent the fragmentation of the information landscape into a multitude of information bubbles fuelled by recommendation algorithms? These are just some of the questions that editorial organisations around the world are asking themselves.
In recent months, media groups published guidelines to steer their use of artificial intelligence. However, given the immense economic incentive to exploit AI for productivity and audience share gains, guidelines are needed to ensure all players adopt a cautious and reasoned approach regarding information integrity. That's why the committee convened by RSF will develop the foundational principles of shared ethics in media in the era of AI.
"Artificial Intelligence systems present a crucial challenge for both journalism and media. Unfortunately, there isn't enough encouragement for any single entity to utilise these tools ethically and judiciously. What we need is a collective global commitment, anchored in sound principles, to uphold the ethics of journalism and harness AI for preserving the right to information. We believe that the charter, to be drafted under the leadership of Maria Ressa and with the contribution of this committee composed of prominent figures, will become a strong international reference," said Christophe Deloire, secretary general of RSF.
"Economic competition should not dictate the speed at which the media industry seizes one of the most revolutionary technologies of our time. That would be a disaster for the information space. I am honoured to lead this Charter initiative, aiming to prioritise long-term, ethical concerns over short-term gains," commented Maria Ressa, journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
"We are already seeing signs of the profound effect AI will have on journalism, newsrooms and the wider information ecosystem. Strong ethical frameworks are critical as usage increases, and I am ready to contribute to the work of this important committee on behalf of WAN-IFRA and the World Editors Forum," added Martha Ramos Sosa, chief editorial officer of the Organización Editorial Mexicana (OEM) and chairperson of Wan-Ifra's World Editors Forum Board.