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May 14, 2024

Less than half of journalists using generative AI for work, survey

Just 5% of journalists are using tools like ChatGPT and Bard "often", according to major survey.

By Charlotte Tobitt

Less than half of journalists say they are using generative AI tools like ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini (formerly Bard) in their work, according to a new global survey.

Some 53% of 3,016 journalists in 19 markets surveyed for Cision’s annual State of the Media report said they are not using generative AI “at all”.

Just 5% are using these tools “often”. Some 12% are using them a “moderate amount” while 28% are using them “a little”.

Many publishers have taken a cautious approach to the use of generative AI for published content, advising their journalists not to do so until full guidance has been created.

Among those journalists who have used generative AI tools in their work, 23% said it was to research certain topics, 19% said it had helped create outlines or early drafts of content, and 13% said it was to brainstorm new story ideas.

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[Read more: What UK really thinks about use of AI in journalism]

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Last year's report did not include comparable questions as that survey was carried out just two months after the release of ChatGPT in November 2022. However, the 2023 report did feature some early concerns about AI, with one respondent saying journalists who hide from innovations like ChatGPT "are at a disadvantage" and another stressing the importance of being "aware of the opportunities and pitfalls of AI".

This year, journalists ranked the emergence of artificial intelligence as their sixth biggest challenge for the journalism industry over the past year. Just over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed said it was among their three biggest concerns for the industry.

What journalists say are the biggest challenges facing the industry

"Maintaining credibility as a trusted news source and combating accusations of 'fake news'" remained the top-ranked challenge for the industry, with 42% of respondents choosing it as one of their three biggest issues.

It was seen as a bigger issue in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) on 44% versus 41% in North America and 35% in the Asia-Pacific (APAC).

Last year, when respondents were asked to select just one biggest challenge for journalism, it was top on 27%.

In second place this year was the challenge of "adapting to changing audience behaviours around media consumption", narrowly behind on 41%.

In third place was a "lack of staffing and resources" on 36%. This was in joint second place in 2023 with 20% of respondents choosing it as their biggest challenge of the year, the same proportion as "declining advertising and circulation revenues".

Job cuts were a bigger concern in North America (41%) and EMEA (37%) than APAC (22%).

In 2023 Press Gazette estimates there were more than 8,000 journalism job cuts in the UK and North America with at least a further 1,700 in 2024 so far.

In comparison the challenge of "competing with social media influencers and digital content creators for audience attention was a much bigger concern in APAC (39%) than EMEA (27%) or North America (24%). APAC countries also struggled the most with "verifying information and finding credible sources", with 31% agreeing that was a concern versus 22% in EMEA and 15% in North America.

Meanwhile "media downsizing and reduced resources" was ranked as the biggest personal challenge for journalists in the past year with 60% citing it as one of their top three.

"Keeping up" amid downsizing and reduced resources was similarly top last year, with 38% citing it as their single biggest challenge.

In second and third place this year were "balancing reporting on important topics against pressure to drive business" (42%) and "having to compete with misinformation online" (33%).

Just over a fifth (22%) of journalists surveyed for the report identified as freelance or independent. They were less concerned with challenges facing journalism from a lack of staffing and resources (22% ranking it in their top three concerns for the industry versus 42% of staff journalists) but were more worried about the emergence of AI (34% versus 23% of staffers).

Which social media platforms will get more attention this year?

Over the next year, Instagram is the social media platform most targeted for growth by media outlets, according to the survey respondents.

Some 44% of the journalists who took part in the survey said their brand/media outlet planned to get more active on Instagram.

It was followed by Linkedin (39%) and Facebook (34%) - even though referral traffic to major news sites from Facebook has fallen by 50% over the past year.

Tiktok, where many publishers have seen rapid growth while seeking younger audiences despite a relatively late arrival to the platform, remains behind X (formerly Twitter) as a priority for activity over the year ahead (21% versus 24% respectively). This is despite speculation last year that a new platform like Meta's Threads or Bluesky could take its place after Elon Musk's takeover. Threads was seen as an area of growth for 10% of the journalists surveyed.

Chinese-founded Tiktok was slightly more prominent in the survey in North America (24% versus 18% in EMEA and 20% in APAC) despite the possibility it will be banned in the US within a year. But it was still behind X everywhere except APAC (27% for North America, 24% for EMEA and 17% in Asia-Pacific).

Meanwhile Whatsapp, which has seen major UK publisher Reach win multiple innovation awards for its use of the recently-launched Channels and Communities functions, was only seen as a growth area by 11%. It is much bigger in EMEA, where 18% expect increased use over the next year, versus just 4% in North America and 6% in APAC.

Email pged@pressgazette.co.uk to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
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