How AI Can Save Journalism

Cynthia Lieberman: In the right hands and with thoughtful application, artificial intelligence has the potential to save and revitalize authentic journalism by empowering real reporters and producers to generate more and better stories.

In the scenic beachside community of Santa Barbara, Calif., the impending bankruptcy auction of the Santa Barbara News-Press stirred deep anxieties among the locals. The fear was selling the digital paper to an opportunistic buyer might transform the beloved 155-year-old paper into a “zombie news” outlet where stories by experienced reporters with local ties give way to AI-generated content and other cost-cutting measures.

The anxiety that hit Santa Barbara is being felt throughout the journalism world as AI demonstrates its tremendous power and begins to make its mark, locally and nationally.

Perhaps most concerning are news outlets like the year-old NewsGPT that relies entirely on AI without any human fact-checkers and the planned Channel 1 featuring AI-generated virtual anchors and reporters. Both are bold steps in reinventing news reporting and presentation that threaten current journalistic practices and value.

Anchor avatars may create virality, but critics are concerned their cost-cutting focus risks the trust and connection human journalists have built with audiences over time.

And we have seen the dark side of AI in the news. Last October, an altered video of Clarissa Ward, CNN’s chief international correspondent, taking cover in a ditch as rockets explode near the Israel-Gaza border went viral. This footage, altered with fake audio that discredited her reporting, underscores the need to understand AI to identify and eliminate malicious misinformation.

CNN had to scramble to disavow the “fabricated and distorted” clip, saying it “irresponsibly distorts the reality of the moment that was covered live on CNN.”


Clearly, the advent of AI will present challenges and major disruptions. But in the right hands and with thoughtful application, it has the potential to save and revitalize authentic journalism by empowering real reporters and producers to generate more and better stories.

Harnessing AI

Several innovative applications of AI in journalism have emerged, each offering unique advantages and facing distinct challenges. For instance, The Washington Post‘s ‘Heliografand the UK’s automated news service RADAR exemplify how AI can automate routine reporting, freeing journalists to focus on in-depth investigative work. These tools have proven effective in generating localized stories from national data, highlighting underreported areas and topics.

The key to leveraging AI in journalism lies in its wise application. AI can significantly improve the efficiency of news production and the personalization of content, making news more relevant and engaging to diverse audiences. However, human oversight remains indispensable to ensure accuracy and ethical standards and preserve the journalistic values.

Tools Of The Trade

Choosing the right AI assistant hinges on your specific needs including cost, integration and desired tasks. Each has unique strengths, so align your choice with operational and strategic goals. They can be particularly valuable for journalists facing tight deadlines who need to create visually engaging content. Here’s a look at some popular options:

  • ChatGPT (OpenAI): Unleash creativity with brainstorming, headlines, interview questions, and imaginative text formats.
  • Claude.AI (Anthropic): Prioritize accuracy and unbiased reporting. Great for investigative work (but always fact-check).
  • Perplexity.AI: Get concise answers, conduct efficient research with follow-up queries, and access citations for sources.
  • Gemini (Google AI): Enhance reasoning, data analysis and summarization. Integrates seamlessly with Google Workspace.

AI Image Generation

Compelling visuals are vital in journalism. AI image generators make this easy. Here are three popular tools:

  • Midjourney: Craft unique designs with text prompts. Includes a DALL-E 2 prompt library.
  • DALL-E (OpenAI): User-friendly tool for generating realistic images from text descriptions.
  • Google ImageFX: Create images directly within chat for lightning-fast visuals.

I used many of these tools to write this article, but as with any source, I rigorously fact-checked all information and shaped the story using my own expertise and journalistic judgment. Tools like the ones mentioned above enhanced my research, sourcing and content delivery.

Strategic Considerations

Here’s some further reading found and organized with the help of AI that will help news organizations manage and deploy the technology to boost creativity, efficiency, and depth.








  • Media Literacy: Advance public understanding and critical evaluation of AI’s role in news.

One final thought: News organizations should prioritize transparency about the use of AI as I have here. By doing so, they can harness the power of AI to enrich local journalism while safeguarding its integrity and the community’s trust

Cynthia Lieberman is the founder of LieberComm, which crafts marketing and PR campaigns for major Hollywood studios.

Comments (5)

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BeyondTheBeltway says:

April 29, 2024 at 10:23 am

Whose hands are the “right” hands and what exactly is “thoughtful” application?
Thanks to a misplaced love affair with tech in aviation, we now have airliners that fly themselves into the ground while flight crews frantically try to second guess why the autopilot has gone crazy. Piloting skills are at an all time low making the crews even less capable even with the autopilot turned off. If you don’t use it, you lose it. That goes for brain cells too. Relying on AI to perform journalism is simply a pathetic justification for laziness and greed. If you think there is a crisis in journalism today, wait until AI takes over to “fix” it. AI is excellent at figuring out the lie that we want to hear. When we start allowing machines to do our thinking for us, we become little more then compliant farm animals.

BeyondTheBeltway says:

April 29, 2024 at 11:17 am

It sounds like we have to kill journalism in order to save it. AI might help save the “business” of journalism but at the cost of of destroying actual journalism. Playing a song on my smartphone doesn’t make me a musician.

Paulette says:

April 29, 2024 at 9:50 pm

Excellent Read! I appreciate and align with your point of view. AI is here to stay and as you mentioned— how you harness it’s power is critical! Thank you for all the great resources!

Cynthia Lieberman / LieberComm says:

April 30, 2024 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for your feedback @BeyondTheBeltway! Your airplane analogy raises valid concerns about the dangers of over-reliance on technology, and it’s a perspective worth considering. However, recognizing what AI is CAPABLE of is equally important in avoiding its misuse and the spread of misinformation. After all, the use of AI tech is not going away any time soon. Think of AI as the modern equivalent of a journalist’s old tape recorder or the internet itself; these tools were not replacements for journalism itself, but rather enhancements to the practice.

Unfortunately, many expect AI to magically produce flawless writing without proper guidance, which is unrealistic and can lead to the issues you’ve mentioned. That’s why I think it’s essential to view AI as a powerful tool that requires skilled handling. Just as a pilot cannot blame the autopilot for a navigational error, we shouldn’t expect AI to function perfectly without human oversight, right?

This is why ‘prompt engineering’ is becoming such a hot topic. When well-crafted, AI can assist with gathering facts, transcribing, or generating initial drafts, leaving the human journalist to provide deeper insight, critical analysis, and original thought. It starts with understanding its capabilities and limitations and then integrating these tools thoughtfully into the journalistic process.

How do you think we can ensure that AI serves as an ally in our daily lives, our journalism, and our personal lives, rather than as a detriment?”

Cynthia Lieberman / LieberComm says:

April 30, 2024 at 4:02 pm

Thanks, @Paulette!

It seems that in today’s rapid evolution of tech, it’s not the smartest or the strongest who can survive; it’s the most adaptable.

A GM at a TV station commented to me in a direct message, “AI is everywhere already. We use it in news, sales, and creative services. It’s happening whether people like it…or not.” This comment underscores the need for smart AI solutions that are continually focused on helping humans develop deeper insights, critical thinking skills, and the generation of original thought.

I’m curious…. do you use AI tools in your work/life that have helped you,  and do you have other AI-related solutions to suggest?